Hook to Heal: Wk 11 reading/Wk 10 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 11 reading/Wk 10 check-in

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It’s week 11, our penultimate week and final full chapter of Hook to Heal! Here is the reading for this week:

Week 11: 11th-17th July

  • Artistic Development, pp. 211-226

For the Kindle readers, that’s from the chapter title “Artistic Development” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings About Being An Artist.” The text box has 7 bullet points and the final one begins “What is the difference …” and ends with “What are the similarities?”

This week may come as a real challenge to many of us. Vercillo throws down the gauntlet in this final chapter, asking us to define and then test our ideas of what an artist is, of who an artist is, and of whether or not we belong in that category. She has a definite view to put forward here, and you may or may not share it, but I suspect it will be a very interesting experiment to allow ourselves to question our preconceptions.

Have a great week.

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 10

Coming soon … 🙂

Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 10 reading/Wk 9 check-in

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Our week 10 reading is:

Week 10: 4th-10th July

  • Balance, pp. 191-210

For the kindle readers, that’s from the chapter heading “Balance” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Balance.” This box contains 6 bullet points, and the last one starts “Make a list of your 10 favourite things to do,” and ends “How can you adjust that?”

This week we deal with that essential feature of a rounded life: balance. Balance is one of those things I seem to be always in search of, never achieving. We will have opportunities for crochet exercises that face the often contradictory needs we have. We will challenge our perceptions of the “right” way to do a task by doing it several different ways. We will look at symmetry, harmony, discord and tension. We will see how our crochet lessons translate into broader aspects of life.

This is our penultimate topic, so have fun with this one. x

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 9

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  • Morning pages: 4/7
  • Artist’s Date: Designing and working on squares for Woolly Hugs’ Jo Cox memorial blanket.
  • Exercises: 4/7

Week 9 was all about giving back, something that has always been important to me and is reflected not only in charitable donations, but also in the voluntary work that I do. It was a real treat to give back via the medium of crochet and fibre art.

The crochet that I worked on for this week’s artist’s date is destined for the woolly hugs charity (exercise 1), and I have made plans to teach a new student to crochet (exercise 2). I have been gradually reducing my yarn stash over time and had another ruthless sort out, the results of which will be donated to charity (exercise 3), but the real excitement for me this week was exercise 6: Slow Yarn.

I love the idea of slow making, and slow yarn is really what I’m all about. Slow as in taking time to appreciate the process, to make the most of the experience, and capture some of that care and attention in what is being created.

This exercise encouraged me to find out more about the slow yarn movement. I rather liked this post, and had a good mooch around slowyarn.com, but overall there was very little web presence for the idea of slow yarn. Which makes me more determined to carry on with this work and keep making, and writing about making, my slow, story-infused, unique yarn for crafters.

I feel the process that I have carved out for myself is one that gives back with abundance. It gives back to me, using mindful creativity to restore myself. It gives back to the craft community, with the offer of something unique and meaningful, and it gives back to the world: a little bit of a creative soul, shared freely. Make of it what you will.

x

June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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June Rolag Club: St. John’s Eve

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating St. John’s Eve on the 23rd of June.

St. John’s Eve is closely associated with midsummer celebrations and is celebrated in many countries around the world with the lighting of bonfires. Although named for a christian martyr, many of the traditions that survive to this day are pre-Christian in origin. The lighting of fires (and sometimes, the leaping of fires) relates to the belief in the cleansing properties of fire. It was also a time for the gathering of herbs to ward off spirits, especially witches, and chief amongst these herbs was St. John’s Wort, the pungent yellow bloom still in use today for its medicinal properties. St. John’s Day, or midsummer, was fixed as the 24th of June, despite the variation in date of the summer solstice. The saint in question was John the Baptist, born roughly 6 months before Jesus and so his feast day was set 6 months before Christmas Eve, making it one of the few saints days to celebrate the martyr’s birth, rather than death. St. John’s Day became one of the English Quarter Days, the others being Michaelmas, Christmas and Lady Day.

This month’s rolags are bonfire-inspired. You will also find a mini-skein in “charcoal” from Setting the Twist, a bit of heat from your three ginger tea and the gingins chew, soothing bedtime tea containing valerian, which was also collected at this time of year, stitch markers and a notions pouch from Forest Valley Designs to celebrate the solstice and the traditional herb-gathering, a tealight to have your own mini fire, a poem, and a recipe for the celebratory dish called “Goody” which was associated with this festival.

Happy midsummer!

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The “Bonfire” rolags were created as a reversible gradient set.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of St. John’s Eve
  • 10g of rolags in “No Smoke Without” – 50% Grey Suffolk, 20% Yak, 15% Rose, 15% Tussah Silk.
  • 20g of reversible-gradient rolags in “Bonfire” – 49% Merino, 21% Tussah Silk, 15% Baby Camel, 15% Faux Angora
  • A handspun mini skein in “Charcoal” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Three Ginger and Bedtime blends
  • Stitch markers in “Sun” and “St. John’s Wort” by Forest Valley Designs
  • “The Joyful Feast of St. John”
  • A recipe for “Goody”
  • A tealight
  • Gingins ginger chew
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A sun worthy of midsummer, from Forest Valley Designs

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St. John’s Wort by Forest Valley Designs

“The Joyful Feast of St. John”

Then doth the joyful feast of St. John the Baptist take his turne,

When bonfires great with loftie flame, in every towne doe burne;

And yong men round with maides, doe daunce in every streete,

With garlands wrought of Motherwort, or else with Vervain sweete,

And many other flowre faire, with Violets in their handes,

Whereas they all do fondly thinke, that whosoever standes,

And thorow the flowres beholds the flame, his eyes shall feele no paine.

When thus till night they daunced have, they through the fire amaine

With striving mindes doe runne, and all their hearbes they cast therein,

And then, with wordes devout and prayers, they solemnly begin,

Desiring God that all their illies may there consumed bee

Whereby they thinke through all that yeare from Augues to be free …

 

From a 16th Century poem by Thomas Kirchmeyer

Ref: Families, Festivals and Food, p.51

Recipe: “Goody”

Ingredients (all quantities approximate)

  • 350 ml milk
  • 8 slices of slightly stale bread
  • 35g sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Heat the milk in a pan.
  2. Take the slightly stale bread and tear each slice into smaller pieces. Add the bread to the warm milk.
  3. Add 25g of the sugar and bring the mixture to the boil.
  4. Adjust the sugar to taste, and add more milk if needed during cooking.
  5. Pour the mixture into an oven-proof dish.
  6. Top with the remaining sugar, mixed with the cinnamon.
  7. Bake until browned and crispy on the top.
  8. Serve and enjoy.

Hook to Heal: Wk 9 reading/Wk 8 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 9 reading/Wk 8 check-in

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Our reading for week 9 is:

Week 9: 27th June – 3rd July

  • Giving Back, pp. 177-190
  • For the kindle folk that’s from the chapter heading “Giving Back” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Giving Back Through Crochet”. This box has 5 bullet points and the final one begins “Where do you make most of your purchases?” and ends “… the community of people out there who are making things by hand?”

The focus is on helping others and thereby helping ourselves. There is a well-researched link between voluntary work and wellbeing. This week we will see, and maybe follow, Vercillo’s suggestions for giving back through the medium of crochet. This could be small-scale, such as making a gift for someone, it could mean starting a crochet group or getting involved in a charity. There is all manner of craftivism out there to inspire and build upon.

Have a great week!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 8

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  • Morning pages: Where’s the wagon?
  • Artists date: Me and my hook. 💕
  • Exercises: 4/8

Before I talk about this hook to heal week, I wanted to address the issue of perfectionism. Before I started this hook to heal journey, I had no idea it would coincide with some of the most difficult times I’ve had in recent years (and if you know me, you’ll know that’s bad.) It has made it very hard to stick with this, to protect that time, and to do the work. But that’s ok. Life happens. In my previous incarnation as a dyed-in-the-wool perfectionist, this would be cause to abandon the project entirely. But no longer. Running this read along means doing my part of the journey in public, and the fact it’s been a rough ride for me means I get to model the process of accepting and working with the difficulties; of hitting bumps in the road, but getting up again each time.

So this week my morning pages went awol and my artist’s date was necessarily very modest. But I am feeling a whole lot better today and came back to my pages with renewed enthusiasm! And although I am missing a couple of weeks, working with the week 8 exercises fit well, so I taught my husband a new craft (though it was lucet rather than crochet … the principle holds!)(exercise 1), I crafted in parallel with my children, to lay the foundations of family craft hour (exercise 2), I didn’t get around to the exercise about recreating a favourite memory, but I did find the pieces already in my collection of fibre art that has been inspired in this way. My favourite is this woven scene:

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It probably won’t mean anything to you, but it means so much to me. For me, this scene is summer school, friends and family, freedom, love, laughter and learning. And baseball! I have also crocheted gifts with intention (exercise 5), joined local crafting groups (exercise 6), and does this read along count as a crochet book club (exercise 7)? Probably not, but I’m glad I did it.

So onwards to week 9. I still have an awful lot of healing to do, but now I feel ready to face the challenge again.

Hook to Heal: Wk 8 reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 8 reading

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Our reading for this week is:

Week 8: 20th-26th June

  • Relationships and Connecting, pp. 161-176

For the Kindle folks, that’s from the chapter heading “Relationships and Connecting” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Crafting in Relationships”. The last text box contains 8 bullet points and the final one begins “Do you need to have a serious or difficult conversation … ” and ends “… so that they don’t think that you’re not paying attention!”

This week, week 8 of 12 already!, we remember that no one is an island. We are working on personal growth, healing and change, and this will inevitably affect all of our relationships, but especially the relationships we have with those closest to us. Not forgetting, of course, that one of the most fundamental relationships is that which we have with ourselves.

Spend some time nurturing yourself, your significant other, your family and friends. Share the craft love and the healing process.

Have a wonderful week. x

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Hook to Heal: Wk 7 reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 7 reading

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Our week 7 reading assignment is:

Week 7: 13th-19th June

  • Create Abundance, pp. 139-160

For those on kindle that’s from the chapter heading “Create Abundance” to the text box entitled “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Abundance”, and containing 7 bullet points. The last one begins “In what ways … ” and ends “… change your mindset from competing to collaborating?”

Over half way now! The weeks are whizzing by. This week Vercillo follows the chapter on Facing Fears by considering two common fears: the fear of scarcity and the fear of abundance. She starts by challenging our beliefs about abundance. Is it a good thing? Is it greedy? Too materialistic, maybe? But then she reframes our ideas: we will consider lifting self-imposed limitations and making the best use of our resources, both for the sake of our own happiness and to contribute to the world around us. Above all, the words that sprang to mind when reading this chapter were carpe diem: seize the day. Stop saving things for best, for that eternal ‘someday’, and use and enjoy them now.

As for me, I’ve spent my week reviewing and practising many of the mindfulness crochet and positive affirmation exercises, so you’ll need to wait a little bit for my report on week 5. Let’s call it … an abundance of anticipation. 😀

Have a week brimming with abundance. Enjoy!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Hook to Heal: Wk 6 reading/Wk 4 check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 6 reading/Wk 4 check-in

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Our week 6 reading assignment is:

Week 6: 6th-12th June

  • Facing Fears, pp. 116-138

For those on Kindle that’s from the chapter heading “Facing Fears” to the text box “Yarn for Thought: More Musing on Fear.” This box has 6 bullet points and the last one begins “Make a list of all the things that make you unique,” and ends ” – celebrate that!”

Vercillo pulls no punches in the opening to this chapter: “The things that you are afraid of are holding you back.” I cannot overemphasise the truth of these words. It is a lesson I have learnt time and time again from working on these kinds of projects and on personal improvement. Every single time I have felt ‘stuck’ with creative work, or with wanting to go in a new direction or improve a situation in my life, I have traced the cause back to fear. Basically, I’m not making progress because I am scared to make progress. The specific fears may vary between individuals. Mine tend to be very consistent. I’m scared to fail. And at the same time I’m scared to succeed. But there are ways into dealing with and overcoming these fears, and chapter 6 of Hook to Heal is a great way to start. But let me ask you a question. Are you someone who’s been following this read along, hoping or trying to participate? Is something holding you back from really engaging with the process? Could that barrier be a fear?

Have a great week. Slay some dragons. 🐲

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 4

  • Morning pages: 5/7
  • Artist’s date: kinda. Great days out, but it’s hard to do that alone in half-term!
  • Exercises: Of 14, I completed 4, prepared the ground for another 3, am intending to do 3 more in the future, and decided the remaining 4 are not right for me just now.

I have to say, I’ve had a great Hook to Heal week, which is the first time I can really claim that. Maybe it’s no coincidence that this breakthrough came in week 4: Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building. After all, I started this whole process after I recognised a lack of self-care and decided to do something positive to address that.

This week there was a heavy focus on affirmations, another valuable technique I first came across in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. I got so much out of this process. I will show you the fisrt and last steps of my working of exercises 1-3. Here we examined the negative things we say to ourselves about our craft. We dig down to the roots of these ideas – where do they come from? – and analyse their validity. Then we flip them into positive affirmations and use them to start an upward a spiral of self-esteem building.

First I identified the negative things I tell myself about my work. One of the suggestions was to ask a friend about the negative statements they’ve heard from you. This was the response I got to that experiment:

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It is true that I’m generally a positive person and very forgiving of mistakes in myself and others. However I did come up with six pieces of negative craft-related self-talk with which to work:

  1. I should be working/tidying/etc.
  2. I should work on my commissioned piece.
  3. I spend too much money on this.
  4. I have too many unfinished WIPS.
  5. I am not organised enough with my projects.
  6. I can’t charge more for my work.

After examining each of these self-criticisms, and identifying how much I really believe them, if at all, I followed Vercillo’s steps for turning them into positive affirmations.

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  1. I am working on my mental health, and that is important.
  2. The amount of time I spend on paid work is exactly right.
  3. The money I invest in myself, my health, and my happiness is money well-spent.
  4. My unfinished WIPs are not a problem and I can return to each project whenever I like.
  5. My organisation is good enough.
  6. I can ask extra-special prices for extra-special yarn.

These affirmations, and more, provide the basis of many of the exercises in this chapter. The exercises are too good to be confined to a mere week of my time and, like many of the exercises I have discovered from Hook to Heal, will become regular, maybe daily, features of my craft work.

Hook to Heal: Wk 5 Reading/Wk 3 Check-in

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Hook to Heal: Wk 5 Reading/Wk 3 Check-in

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Our week 5 reading assignment is:

Week 5: 30th May – 5th June

  • Embrace a Sense of Adventure, pp. 94-115

For those reading on Kindle, that’s from the chapter heading “Embrace a Sense of Adventure” to the text box entitled “Yarn for Thought: More Musings on Developing your Sense of Adventure.” The box contains 6 bullet points, and the last one begins “Make a bucket list,” and ends “… spark your creativity in new directions.”

This week the challenge is to build on these foundations of self-care and launch into new adventures, pushing against the walls of our comfort zones and learning new things, both about our craft and about ourselves.

Have fun!

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.

Personal check-in, week 3

  • Morning pages: 6/7
  • Artist’s Date: 1/1 – Knitting indulgence!
  • Exercises: 4/6

So, here I am, a full week behind! I have decided that this is OK. I am remembering what the author said in her introductiom about not using this book to beat ourselves up (after all, isn’t that what we’re trying to get away from?) I also want to demonstrate that it’s OK to not do something perfectly. It’s OK to carry on in my own way. It’s certainly better than just giving up.

It has been another exceptionally tough week (fortnight, actually). So letting go, releasing, relaxing are all very good things to be concentrating on and I also continued with the idea of mindfulness crochet. Real life comes along with a big dose of stress for our family at the moment, and I have been using repetitive craft exercises as a balm. This week the almost endless beaded cast-off on my current project, and carding much of my fleece supply have helped to keep my sanity in tact.

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The almost endless beaded cast-off. So long. So worth it. So meditative.

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Carding raw fleece: guaranteed to calm the mind and soothe the spirit.

Letting go, releasing and relaxing is very familiar teritory to me, mainly thanks to my study of the Alexander Technique. So many of the exercises were either things I have done before, or aimed at types of personal development that I’ve been studying for years.

Focussing on our successes, getting rid of the ‘shoulds’ that we all have, challenging the belief that we need to know or to control, working with processes rather than aimimg for a specific result, this is all well worn ground for me.

So I enjoyed being a beginner (exercise 2). I taught myself Bavarian crochet! It didn’t go that smoothly, the tutorials I picked skipped over some key information (which, as someone who occasionally writes tutorials, is a very useful lesson!) But I wasn’t too worried about the errors, I left them in (exercise 6), and because I was only interested in the process of learning, not the final product, I frogged the lot after reaching my goal (exercise 4). I have already joined a mystery crochet-a-long (exercise 3) and although I didn’t get a chance to sort my wips (exercise 5), I shall certainly be following this exercise as I pack to move house over the next few weeks.

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First steps in Bavarian Crochet

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That doesn’t look right!

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A few errors, but basically I understand this now.

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Continuing beyond the tutorial. I got this.

 

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Final product. Ripping out my work scandalised my daughter. But the process was the thing that mattered, and that learning can’t be frogged.

Week 3 was a week of consolidation for me, rather than new territory. It was great to take the general principles I’ve been learning for the last few years and apply them to my craft in order to further eradicate the menace of perfectionism. They are lessons I will need to remember as I move forward with this project.

May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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May Rolag Club: Oak Apple Day

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Welcome to Forgotten Festivals Rolag Club!

This month we are celebrating Oak Apple Day on the 29th of May.

Oak Apple Day, also known as Royal Oak Day, celebrates the restoration of Charles II to the British throne. Its name derives from the story of his escape from the Roundheads after the battle of Worcester. In order to evade his pursuers, he hid in an oak tree and legend has it that whilst hiding in the tree, he had to be pinched by his companions in order to stay awake. This led to yet another name for the festival: Pinch-Bum Day!

Although Charles’ escape happened on the 4th of September, all these traditions and tales were rolled into the celebration of his restoration, which parliament declared as a day of national thanksgiving in 1660. Prior to the restoration, the ruling Puritans had forbidden many of the traditional spring-to-summer festivities, such as May Day, and the newly-revived customs also became part of Oak Apple Day. Morris dancing, flower-garlanded sticks to welcome in the summer, and the collection of hawthorn blossom all happened on Oak Apple Day, and beer and plum pudding were on the menu.

The Royalist badge is a sprig of Oak. Not only were oak leaves and oak apples pinned to lapels, but houses and public buildings were decorated with oak. A typical children’s game was to challenge one’s companion to show their royalist token, and if found not to be wearing one then there would be penalties, and the name Pinch-Bum Day suddenly becomes clear!

This month’s rolags are inspired by the hawthorn blossoms that were collected on Oak Apple Day, and by the apple and cherry blossom that abounds at this time of year. Setting the Twist has treated us to a handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf”, and there are oak leaf stitch markers from me and a rather beautiful treat from Sour Cream and Chive.

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In contrast to the last month, May’s rolags were a subtle tribute to seasonal blossom trees.

In this box you should find:

  • The story of Oak Apple Day
  • 20g of rolags in “Hawthorn” – 60% Masham, 15% Tussah Silk, 15% Seacell, 10% Merino, with added pink and black angelina.
  • 10g of rolags in “Blossom” – 60% Merino, 30% Mulberry Silk, 10% Merino and some angelina.
  • A handspun mini skein in “Oak Leaf” by Setting The Twist
  • Tea in Wild Apple and Hawthorn blends
  • Oak leaf stitch markers
  • A recipe for plum duff
  • An acorn necklace from Sour Cream and Chive
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Mini skeins in “Oak Leaf” by Setting the Twist.

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Sarah plied the greens with gold thread, reminiscent of the golden oak-leaf brooches worn by royalists.

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Acorn necklace by Sour Cream and Chive.

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Necklace by Sour Cream and Chive. Stitch markers by Story Skeins.

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Close-up of the oak leaf stitch markers.

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Tea: Hawthorn and Wild Apple blends.

Recipe: Plum Duff

This is a traditional boiled pudding, wrapped in cloth and tied with string. It was also known as “Baby’s Bum” thanks to the mark left on the pudding from that string, which does seem an appropriate name given the festival.

Ingredients:

  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 100g grated suet
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 100g dried mixed fruit
  • 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
  • Milk, to mix
  • Golden syrup and cream to serve.

Method:

  1. Toss the grated suet in 50g of the flour.
  2. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Add enough milk to make a stiff dough.
  3. Sprinkle a clean pudding cloth or tea towel with flour and shape the dough into a thick roll. Place the roll onto the cloth, leaving a pleat of material at either end. Roll up the cloth around the pudding. Tie with string at each end, and loosely around the centre. Place the pudding into a pan of boiling water and boul for 1.5 hours, topping up the boiling water as necessary.
  4. Lift the pudding out of the pan, cut the string, remove the cloth and turn out onto a warm dish. Pour over a little warmed golden syrup and serve with the cream.

Reference: Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones and Barbara Deer, Dorling Kindersley 1987.

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Oak apples.

Hook to Heal: Wk 4 Reading

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Hook to Heal: Wk 4 Reading

Why-does-selfesteem

Our week 4 reading assignment it:

Week 4: 23rd-29th May

  • Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building, pp. 53-93

For the Kindle crowd, that’s from the chapter heading “Self-Care and Self-Esteem Building” to the box entitled “Yarn for thought: More Musings for Self-Love.” This box contains 6 bullet points, the final one being “What limits your ability to love yourself?”

This week we embark on the critically important work of self-care. We dig down to the roots of our negative thoughts about ourselves and work through processes of affirmations to turn the negative self-thoughts into positive ones. We look at how crochet can be used to support this process and build our self-esteem. This type of work can be intense in the feelings it exposes, so be extra careful with yourselves this week.

Have a healing week, everyone.

All the information about the read along, including how to join, can be found on the project page.