Today, in something of a spontaneous moment, I decided to visit my in-laws for a few days. I really enjoy visiting my in-laws. They live in a beautiful barn conversion in Nottinghamshire, along with Jasper the parakeet, Kitty the cat, Charlie and Rosie the rescue donkeys, and a small flock of sheep complete with four newly-arrived lambs. Next door is the old farmhouse, and the family there has horses, dogs and chickens. So it is a very beautiful, rural idyll.
My mother-in-law, Mrs Wool and Yarns, is a very talented lady, and in their garden she has a huge workshop, which she calls “the cabin”, for all of her crafty goings on. She uses the fleeces from her sheep, which are mainly Jacobs, for some of her crafts. She spins and dyes wool, and she is also an expert felter and knitter. In the past she has done many different crafty type things, from candle making to jewellery making, and she recently made all the costumes for the local pantomime, but right now her focus is on all things woolly – including the lambing!
My husband is working abroad at the moment, and it is actually quite nice to make a visit without him. I can indulge my animal loving side by cuddling the cat (my husband is allergic, so normally I have to steer clear!), helping bottle-feed Macaroon the poor little orphaned lamb, giving the donkeys lots of attention and carrots. And of course I can get lots of crafting done, maybe even spend some time learning something new: I want to learn knitting this year, but I also fancy learning about felting. At some point I’d love to learn about dying too… So many possibilities!
So packing for this trip was much more fun than normal (I hate packing – not good for someone who enjoys travelling so much!) No need to worry about any fancy outfits: I need scruffy clothes I don't mind getting muddy, wellies for outside and slippers for inside, and some entertainment:
The Kathy Reichs book is what I’m currently reading. I’ve had an unread Kathy Reichs book, Death du Jour, on my shelves since I was at university. I finally decided to read it the other day and found it to be a real page-turner, very compelling reading! I got most of the way through it in just a few days, then finished the final third in one several-hour stint as I just couldn’t put it down. The end of every chapter left me desperate to know what would happen next. The very next day I just had to head out to the local charity shops to look for another. I love book shopping in charity shops – they are so much cheaper and the money goes to a good cause, so I feel as if I can try something new without wasting money. I also love the thrill of the chase when hunting for a particular title, or the excitement of stumbling over a really good new book that I hadn’t heard of before.
The rest are my selection to choose from for my next book, I wasn’t sure what I would fancy reading next so I just grabbed a random pile: a bit of a memoir from the days of the Raj; a character-driven novel set in the mysterious orient during the opium wars, my third book by author Amitav Ghosh; a novel passed on to me by my mum by new-to-me author Victoria Hislop; and a comedic novel by Sandi Toksvig about a middle aged woman whose boring life is suddenly turned upside-down. I really like Sandi Toksvig on panel shows and things, so I’m hoping that her writing will be just as enjoyable.
And of course I couldn’t come to such a crafty, creative environment without bringing a few of my own WiPs!
On this trip I’ve brought my (still very basic) jewellery making kit – I plan to make some wirework earrings as a gift for my mother-in-law, and also just get some practice in with a few things for myself maybe (can you ever have too much jewellery??)
I’ve also brought my lovely big basket of crochet. I have several things on the go in there, the sheep is modelling a selection of them: a Japanese flower scarf for my mum (the colours are much more vibrant in real life), my first granny square blanket, and a granny stripe cushion cover to go with a cushion cover and sofa blanket that I’ve already completed. Deeper in the basket somewhere are other barely-started items that I’m sure I will get to eventually too…
Lovely people, lovely animals, lovely crafty things: what a lovely weekend this will be!