The sun is a shining….

….to welcome the day! Oh what a beautiful day it is. I’m sat with the sun streaming through the window behind me and I feel good! It has been a bit of an up and down year so far and while things can still be a bit sticky I am starting to feel more settled. I’m sure this has something to do with these….

4th february 001 4th february 002A little bit of hooky time. In and out, round and about, and pull through. Little star burst circles. 4th february 004Another round to change the shape. Hexagons, picking up on the white of the centre. Then all change…

4th february 005Yes one hexagonal flower completed. One a work in progress!

4th february 006Seven little hexagons to make a flower. I have joined on the top, making a slight little ridge. So later I will be hooking in and out adding more circles to the hexagons and in turn to the flowers!

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Happy Easter

005Jesus Christ is risen! Happy Easter!

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Quick, quick!

Yes quick, quick! Today is the 31st of March and I haven’t written a blog post for March yet – oops! So as I sit here with the football on and Italy having just scored, I will put pen to paper. Well fingers to keys I suppose.

March. This month has gone by so quickly. (There’s that word again!) My days have flown by into weeks and now the weeks into a month. So what have I been up to? I have walked with good friends. I try and walk twice a week, usually a 6 mile and a 4 mile walk. We look at the countryside, the flowers that are out, the hedges that are just bursting into life and the animals that are bounding around. Yes we have been treated to snowdrops, daffodils, primroses, cyclamen, a true carpet of colour. The Hawthorn is just starting to leaf, but the catkins have been there a while now. And the bounding? Well the lambs are out and about of course! Sheer bliss. 🙂

I have managed to have two little sessions in the garden. Two bright sunny hours. Only two I’m afraid. It has been very cold of late. I often find that when I have the time to potter in the garden the weather is against me and when I am away  doing other things the weather says “You can come out and garden today!” Never mind. I have promised to venture out this Easter weekend. Plans are a foot in the garden….

Sewing has featured this month – well actually it has been apart of my life since January. Slowly, slowly this time. Methodical in and out of the needle. I found the blog of Karen Ruane last year. I’m not sure whether I have mentioned Karen before, but she is a very talented and inspiring lady. AND she likes to share her skills! Enrollment followed and I started her January on line classes. Following her tutorials I can now tie off a thread neatly (sounds pretty basic but no one has ever shown me the simple step before); make French Knots, Bullion Stitches, Bullion Bridges, Web Stitch, and Stab Stitch; doodle patterns and pictures; and share my findings with other like minded people! Oh I have met many people from all over the world. The Flickr group has a wealth of tips and projects from all these people and I am so grateful for their encouragement. If you find you have the time do enrol on one of Karen’s courses. Swathed in Stitches is drawing to a close, but I have loads more videos to watch and projects to try. My mind is brimming full with ideas! It isn’t about the speed you do something. It is about the enjoyment and boy have I had a lot of that!!! Thank you Karen. 🙂

So just a quick recap on the things in my basket from  January – that’s two whole months ago – yikes! The blue wool is nearing completion. The Alpaca yarn is now a scarf and the green cotton hasn’t moved on any. February was a painting post and I have continued to go each Friday and paint and draw. Pictures? Well just a few…

001 008 007 006 004Happy March!

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I can’t believe that we are nearly at the end of February already! All the things I was going to do and very few of them started let a lone done! Oh well, breathe…… I’ve taken to stopping myself, to breathe and take stock. It does wonders for the mind and being. Nothing mystical just a deep breath and then breathe! I can feel myself unwinding and calming down. It’s good!

I’ve also been playing my worship DVDs a lot. New ones, given to me at Christmas by my lovely husband. I have 2 songs which I just love. Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) and This I Believe (The Creed). Both by Hillsong. I could play them over and over…..

But anyway, back to the post in hand. My husband also gave me a beautiful wooden box for Christmas…

005I think it is of beech wooden, well quite light with a beautiful grain. It came all the way from St. Petersburg. Can you make out the logo on the top? A clue to what’s inside…

004They all looked like sweets carefully wrapped, but they’re not. Nope.. individual cakes of paint. The most delicious cakes of bright intense colours! Wow! I was just gobsmacked! 48 little packets. I have carefully written all their names down in the order they are in the box. I was a little scared of them at first. Proper paints… eek! I am loving them now. As you can see I haven’t opened them all yet, just the ones I have needed. Lovely!

Last September I decided to try to get to grips with people. Bodies, heads, profiles, full on, back, bent, sitting, standing. All the poses that I have shied away from. Well basically I just didn’t ‘do’ people and it has paid off. I found an old book at Christmas which my Dad rescued from a skip or rubbish bin. A beautiful book all about the Middle East and as I love Israel so much I thought I would have a go at the people in the book. So this is what I have been doing at my Friday Art Group…

003This is ‘The Shepherd’ standing and sitting…

002 And then today I finished my Ploughman.

001My people are definitely getting better, not perfect but better. What next?  A Syrian lady dressed in blue which means I get to open some more little cakes.. 🙂

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What’s in the basket?

Well a Happy New Year everyone! A bit late I know but it has been a funny start to the year. 🙂

As always I start the new year with lots of thoughts about what I want to achieve during the year and a look back at what happened last year. As always I set out with the good intentions of these thoughts and fail dismally! So this year I am approaching it differently. I haven’t made a long list – shock horror! I have channeled my thoughts into what I want to achieve with my craft. This is going to be the year of my crafting and to celebrate that fact I have made a new blog for the year 2015. Here.

“Leaves” is going to follow three areas. Three things I want to perfect over the year. There is going to be no time limit, no pressure, just a contentment in what I make. I have explained in over at Leaves in the “About” page. Pop over and have a look. I’m quite excited!! 🙂

So what is going to happen over here at alisonb2? I shall keep this blog going, writing about my everyday crafts and the everyday things like gardening, visiting, and my faith. They are not everyday things really. They all mean a lot to me. They are just the things I like to do daily, weekly, monthly. Like the things I have shared on here since I started writing my blog. This brings me to my title. What’s in the basket?

My general crafting at the moment sits in a basket. Ready to pick up if I have a spare moment in front of the TV. You know what I mean! So I thought I would show you what is sitting grinning at me!001

What a contrast! Thick and thin!

002This  is the delicate Mistral yarn that Sewing Daisies sent me almost a year ago. I have got it out several times and loved just looking at it. Then I decided to wind it into the ball ready to use. I tried several patterns but settled on the flower you see above. It makes my eyes go squiggly but I am enjoying the project. Thank you Sewing Daisies!

006I decided I needed some knitting that I could do without looking at it. Do you knit by the feel of it? Satisfying to track on with something straight forward. Straight forward – hmmmm! The sleeves of this jumper for my husband went up in no time at all. This is the back. A cabled pattern! Not something to track onto yet but it will be when the pattern is set in place. I’ll let you into a secret. I bought the wrong wool so had to find a new pattern! Ooops!!

So what’s left at the bottom?


These little circles are from my jams and chutney present. My sister in law carefully cut and placed a circle of fabric to cover the plain lid. You can see the crinkly edge! I will iron them and put away in my fabric stash. 🙂



The 4ply cotton is so soft and I am loving making these motifs. What are they for? Well the project is building in my mind’s eye and has been for a while now. It is growing and when I am there I will show you!  Intrigue!!009

Which leave the oddments.010

Yes that is a pedometer so it isn’t doing many miles sitting there at the bottom. The two wool bands and the needle holder are from the above. And what’s in the letter? A pattern for a waistcoat from my sister.

So that’s what is in the basket!

God bless and have a lovely day. Alison 🙂

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Happy Christmas


I want to wish you all a very Happy Christmas! May God bless you as we celebrate His birth with family and friends. Take care. xx

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Bang, bang.

Oh isn’t it a grey day today. Really murky and uninspiring! It was yesterday too, but in between all the chores that a stay at home lady must do, I found the time to experiment and play. Paper and card, glue and scissors, thread and needle. Voila!

004Spots and stripes and a little bit of plain. I have been getting to grips with  beginners book binding and I’m rather pleased with the way they turned out.

001 003Two sheets of A4 card and several sheets of plain cream paper and some careful stitches gave me four books.

002 005So, five colours gave me twenty books. Not bad for in between all those jobs!

I have decided to do one last Christmas coffee morning for the Sunshine School.  I have loved making all the bits and pieces that I sell, but there are only so many head bands and bobbles you can entice your friends and family to buy. Ooooohhhhh I hear you say! Don’t worry. I have a new plan in the offing which is not quite ready to appear. Watch this space!!

In the mean time, you can read and refresh yourselves with the school here.


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And finally…

So, and finally! Our last few days in Jerusalem were hard work for me. I have been struggling for a while. Life has been flat and on occasions very vacant, but that is part of me. I have not been ‘here’ for a long time. Usually at this point I will hide, hibernate, gather my things around me. We have had our holiday booked for a long time and deep down I thought Israel would help as I have so many happy and healing memories from before. I thought it would be somewhere to hide and to get away. To try and be bright and cheery, and to relax with family and friends. Well we did relax, but by the time we got to the last few days, my body was beginning to say “What are we doing? Where are we going?” My ‘list’ life was back and I needed the security of knowing exactly what and where we were doing things.  Putting coping strategies in place – ones that are tried and tested – help. Lists become my life crutch. Mental ones. Physical ones. Short ones that last an hour and longer ones which cover a day. I know that lists to some will add a pressure, but I find them comforting. I no longer need to think what to do next. It is there in black and white, occasionally in colour. There holding my hand.

Unfortunately my mental list collapsed one lunch time and I threw a big wobble. It all came rushing out. The steadying hand of my ‘list’ life had gone astray, and the one  I usually hold – my  husband’s, was not there. However, my son’s hand came to the rescue. He packed me up and took me away to find that ‘other half’. He was caring and gentle but firm. He was so adult and grown up. I saw another side to him. A side that I shall remember lovingly and gratefully. Sitting in Christ Church’s courtyard I slowly came back and a list was put in place. A tour of the tunnels under the Western Wall and that of Hezekiah. I shall always remember the trip down Hezekiah’s tunnel. Remember walking through knee high water in a tunnel one person wide and pitch black, except for the little torches people were using. Remember the squeezing of my hand from my son. Remember finding my husband back at the guest house. Remember the sigh of relief that I could then hide away for a while with no pressures. Looking back I have some precious memories to hold. I have no photographs, but lots of feelings to treasure.

A couple of days later we went to the Garden of Gethsemane. It was quiet unlike the last time I went. There was no pushing to get a picture. No pressure. Such beautiful trees, old and gnarled. Something to focus on.

385 387 388Oh I know they are not THE trees, but they drew me into the church. A time to sit and be quiet. A time to focus on my Lord. The colour from the windows was bluey/purple. A regal colour. A subdued hue. A thoughtful restful colour.

398As I sat there listening to the service, not understanding a word, but truly resting in His love, I felt a deep thankfulness. Thankful for the people who had built the churches I had seen on my trips. Thankful for the opportunity they gave to people from around the world to focus and to sit like me. Thankful for the praise we can give no matter the language. But mostly, I was thankful for the love our Lord gives to us no strings attached. A love that endures forever and has a big hand to hold.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations, extol Him,all you peoples. For great is His love towards us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 117.

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Relax 3

A lot of the roads lead up to Jerusalem, a vibrant, cosmopolitan city. Eating out at night, sitting underneath the stars is a must. I couldn’t put my finger on what was so different to eating out here. It was my son who made a connection. The city centre is full of youngsters all having fun. Singing, laughing, congregating in groups around tables and chairs. Sipping their drinks…. and that is what’s so different. Their drinks are all soft drinks. When I think back to the images we have on television of youngsters out on a Friday night, too intoxicated to stand up let alone have a conversation and have fun. I feel very sad to what we have become. Are we letting our youngsters down in some way? Are the role models good ones? I only ask to make you think. It certainly made us think.

However, Jerusalem. A city of two halves. The old city and the clean and crisp ‘new’ one. ‘New’ in the sense that a lot of it is only 100 to 200 years old. We took a walk around the old city walls. Hard work. They were not built for tourists, but the views are spectacular! The photos I took illustrate the city of two halves.

461 460 464 452 453A lot of the walls are from the Crusader times, very structured and castellated . You can see how thick they are…466 465Typical of the design a child here would draw! Jerusalem is also becoming more tree friendly. Back in its history a tree tax was enforced, similar to the window tax in our history. If you didn’t want to pay the tax what do you do? Chop them down!They are now planting trees again!

The old city is split into four, Armenian, Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Christ Church is near Jaffa Gate. It can blow your mind away if you think that it is in Herod’s courtyard and Herod’s palace is opposite! I know the first time I came I struggled with this. Having been several times and wandered around through all the different areas I have never felt uncomfortable or afraid. Whether you walk over the roof tops or meander around the closely packed streets it is a real experience. If someone tries to attract your attention “Shopping? Shopping lady?” a firm “Not this time” is all that is needed. You may get the odd person who is not quite so courteous but that can be said of anywhere.

Christ Church has a lovely coffee shop with cakes to die for! and also houses a Heritage Centre. Conrad Schick, a German architect made a model of the Temple Mount which is on display in the centre. The talk given by the guides is well worth listening too.

So what other little gems did I find? The Museum of Israel has some very fascinating things, but the room that was a must for me was “The Jewish Wardrobe”. Earlier in the year I had the privilege of photographing and handling some Middle Eastern costumes. The cross stitch embroidery on them was out of this world for me. They were at least 100 years old and yes some do need a helping hand and  a bit of tlc, but they are stunning. Well you can imagine my excitement when there displayed in front of me were pieces of clothing almost identical to the ones at Hexgreave. The book to go with the exhibition was bought. Photos were taken. And a name given of someone in England who could help us with the tlc! Have a look/see!

340 341 344 354I just love these shawls! I have begun to formalise another project in my mind. I really want to take the costumes at Hexgreave further and research them properly. So I’ll keep you posted!

“And finally” will be tomorrow’s post.

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Relax 2

Hello again. I forgot this little gem. Before leaving for the Galilee we went to the Museum of the Diaspora in Tel Aviv. Some beautiful works here and a great coffee shop. It was the use of textiles to tell the story of the Jewish people that spoke loudly to me. The use of stump work with tapestry and applique was so imaginative. Loved it…..

039 040 041 042 043Beit Bracha is a beautiful place. The balconies over look the Sea and the garden has some lovely flowers. Remember?  We joined each other for breakfast around a huge table. Fresh fruit (very fresh) homemade granola, homemade lemon curd, toast and other salads. What a treat! Yes this was a place I would go back to.

214 215On the wall in the lounge was a very pretty decoration based on the passage of love in Corinthians. Always a favourite at a wedding!  My mind went into a spin as a project began to come together.

209 213 212 211210 I have been collecting ‘inchies or pinnies’ on my pinterest board. The idea of doing something tiny intrigues me. Small stitches. Small patches. Little pieces of colour carefully stitched together. All I have needed is a starting point and what could be better than something that means something to me. Have you guessed? Together with the Hebrew script the above pictures are going to be my journey’s beginning. I have been following a lady called Karen. She is extremely good at her embroidery mostly done in white. Do have a browse. But what she does as well is to experiment in her ledgers. Drawing and making notes and trying out different stitches. These ledgers are as important to her as the finished  item and I love them! So my journey will start with a bit of ledger work I think! Hmmm….

Following a dip in the Galilee for some of the group and a very special dip/baptism in the Jordan for our son (there wasn’t a dry eye amongst us), we began the trip down to Jerusalem or should I say up to Jerusalem!243 244More to follow……!

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