Make it Monday: St Brigid’s Cross

Finished St Brigid's Cross

Saint Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is speculation that she’s a continuation of the pagan goddess for spring and certainly, she is now associated with the protection of animals and her feast day falls on Imbolc, the start of spring. She is also the patron saint of poetry, arts and crafts which is one of the reasons I was interested in marking her feast day and making a Saint Brigid’s Cross.

Scissors, string and raffia to make St Brigid's Cross

The cross itself is traditionally made from straw, but because we didn’t have any we used paper raffia, which worked fairly well, although next time we would glue the pieces together once they were in place to stop them moving around so much.

Pieces of raffia

We measured  30cm pieces of raffia and the toddler was very excited that she was able to cut them. I then folded the strands in half, leaving us with sixteen strands of raffia measuring 15cm. Then it was on to weaving! This proved rather more fiddly than I had anticipated, probably due to the raffia not being as stiff as straw would be and the pieces kept moving. I found it helped if I placed the cross on the table and held the centre, twisting it as I added more layers. Unfortunately, because it was a little fiddly, the toddler did lose interest and I was left to weave on my own.

Weaving a St Brigids Cross

Most of the instructions I looked at were the same, with the central four straws woven together to form a square, then additional straws added to build up the cross. You can add as many ‘layers’ as you want, but I chose four, one for each member of the house. Here’s the link to Colorful Crafts whose instructions I used. I found them very clear and there were lots of photographs to follow. There are loads of different shapes which can be woven and next year we may try a triangle or star.

Did you celebrate Imbolc or make a St Brigid’s Cross? Let me know in the comments below.

‘My Wandering Uterus’ Wandering onto your bookshelf soon!

Cover for My Wandering Uterus

I’m very excited to announce that my short story ‘In Search of Sorrow’ will be published in an anthology titled ‘My Wandering Uterus’, edited by Kate Laity and H Byron Ballard with the stunning cover by SL Johnson.

My Wandering Uterus

The history of the wandering uterus is very long, starting in the Greek period. It relates to ‘women’s maladies’ whereby any illness or ‘hysteria’ experienced by a woman would be linked to her uterus. Greek physicians, including Hippocrates, believed that the uterus was a free-floating creature, an ‘animal within an animal‘, which would cause different symptoms depending on where it was in the body. Indeed, the term ‘hysteria‘ was coined to describe the action and symptoms of women, and comes from the Greek word for uterus ‘hysterika’. This paper by Terri Kapsalis on the Literary Hub looks at the history of the Wandering Uterus and how belief in women’s hysteria has perpetuated to the modern day. Kapsalis argues that the idea is so ingrained in our collective psyche that it will frequently be used to dismiss women’s role in society, undermine their skills and negate their freedoms. It’s a very interesting article and I recommend you take a few minutes to read it.

In Search of Sorrow

‘In Search of Sorrow’ is a short story, featuring my new leading lady, Sorrowful Jones. I’m really excited to explore her world more fully and am planning a series of short, interconnected stories which I’ll publish later this year (hopefully!). I don’t reveal too much of Sorrowful’s back story here, but she’s a traveller who is searching for women in need of her help. I’ve drawn a lot on our own travels when building the world of Sorrowful Jones, from her poncho which is woven with animals like those I saw in Peru, to some of the more supernatural ideas from Japan and South East Asia which I’ll explore more in the book.

I’ll keep you updated as to when ‘My Wandering Uterus’ will be published and also my progress with the rest of the book. I can’t wait for you to join Sorrowful Jones and me on the road.


How many scarves can I knit from one ball of wool?

Rowan wool

How beautiful is this Rowan alpaca wool? I bought a ball with my first royalty payment from Fox Spirit Books and if you can fall In love with wool, well that’s what happened. I decided I needed to find the perfect knitting project for such a pretty wool. However, I couldn’t settle on just one pattern and ended up trying several before finally creating my own pattern. Keep scrolling to see my different attempts and my final scarf.

Rowan wool
Look at the detail in the fibres!

The First Attempt

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

I was relatively new to knitting so started with this simple stitch (knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat) in order to make a scarf. But quickly realised one ball of wool would produce a very small scarf. Back to the drawing board!

The Gallatin

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This is easily one of my favourite knitting patterns. From Kris Basta the Gallatin Scarf is fairly simple and quick to knit, I’ve even made some for gifts. Armed with my needles, I bought another ball of the alpaca wool and set to work. I was pleased with the final result as the detailing at the bottom was really pretty. However, unlike the pattern which uses a fine wool, the alpaca wool is chunky which meant it didn’t drop as nicely as the others I made. So I ripped it out and looked for a new pattern.

Learning to Knit Hearts

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Apologies for the photo from my Instagram feed (@bluebeaglebaby) but the house ghosts have moved the original. I kept seeing this heart scarf pattern and was very keen to try it. It’s a lovely pattern and I made a version in a chunky red wool for a friend but as you can see from the photo, the alpaca wool curled at the sides and refused to lay flat so it was once again ripped out.

Things Get Frilly

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This was my first attempt at writing my own pattern. Still relatively new to knitting so it was a very simple pattern but I wanted to try a new edging technique and create ‘waves’. I was pleased with the final result, although the edges curled in, as frequently happens with stockinette stitch and I also really liked the frilled bottom: it will be a technique I use again in future patterns. However, the finished scarf was shorter than I’d hoped which I was surprised about as it’s 150metres of wool! Due to the length and the curled edges, I decided to keep looking for another pattern and ripped it out again.

If you’d like to try the pattern, here it is:

  • Using your chosen wool and appropriate needles, cast on 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Stitch two stitches together for the entire row, leaving 30 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Knit one, yarn over, knit two together for the entire row
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Repeat to desired length
  • After your last set of knit one, yarn over, knit two together and ten rows of stockinette knit one, make one using your chosen method (I like the knit front to back method but yarn over would also work). You should now have 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Cast off and weave in all the ends.

Simple! Hope you like the pattern. It’s not been tested so if you have any queries, comment below and make sure you post photos here or tag me on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Then I Learned to Crochet

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Over the summer I learned to crochet. For some reason, crochet was a skill which I struggled to learn, with most of my attempts looking like weirdly shaped clumps of wool or sort-of triangles. Luckily I found some really useful YouTube channels and the very helpful Planet June website which has helped me enormously.

I’ve quickly fallen in love with crochet and find the range of things I can make very inspiring, from appliqué which I use in creating greeting cards, hats and scarves (I made a Sarah and Duck inspired set for my daughter) and assorted Amigurumi. My daughter loves my creations and keeps asking me to make her different creatures, from a sea cow (another Sarah and Duck inspiration) to a wolf. I’m hoping to perfect my pattern, then more of my amigurami creatures will be offered for sale in my shop.

But back to the scarf. It’s worked completely in half double crochet stitch and you just need to know how to increase and decrease. As with my other patterns, it simple, quick to make and easily customisable. Below is the pattern for the headband but to make the scarf, simply add twenty stitches. Use chunky wool and a 6mm crochet hook.

  • Chain 10
  • HDC in second stitch from hook (9)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (13)
  • Chain 2. HDC into second stitch from the edge of your work, creating a gap. Chain one, then skip a stitch and HDC into the next stitch. Continue to the end of the row. You should have a row with 6 spaces
  • Chain two and HDC into the first space (ie. through the hole, not into the stitch). Chain 1 then HDC into the next space. Continue to the end of the row
  • Continue until the piece measures approximately 45cm but try the headband on and adjust to fit your head accordingly
  • When the piece of long enough, Chain 1 then HDC in each of the stitches (not the spaces this time)  (13)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (9)
  • Bind off and leave a long tail for sewing the ends together
  • Sew the edges together and decorate with your favourite buttons.

For the scarf, the pattern is the same except the row after the increase or decreases I did a row of HDC. Hope you like the pattern. It’s untested but if you do make it, leave a photo below or tag me in on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Make It Monday: Birthday Shenanigans Part 2 ‘Sarah & Duck’

I crocheted the Lamb a ‘Sarah’ doll and Sarah’s favourite animal, a sea cow.

We recently celebrated the Lamb’s third (THIRD!!) birthday. She’s heavily into dinosaurs at the moment so I had planned a dinosaur theme for her birthday. However, as always, the best laid plans for scuppered when two weeks before her birthday, she announced she wanted a ‘Sarah and Duck’ theme. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Sarah and Duck is a charming and quirky cartoon featuring a young girl ‘Sarah’, her friend ‘Duck’ who lives with her and a plethora (I really don’t use the word ‘plethora’ enough. Plethora. Love it) of interesting characters, from ‘Scarf Lady’ who is perpetually knitting and her grumpy knitting bag, Umbrella who doesn’t like the rain, Bug who collects buttons, Plate Girl, Ribbon Sisters, the list goes on.

Which luckily means there are a huge number of characters to draw inspiration from. As we do every birthday, we decorated our fireplace.

With help from the Lamb, we made pom-poms. Pom-poms are a craft I’d been looking forward to doing with the Lamb for a while. It’s very simple and mess-free, plus we loved throwing our pom-poms in the air. Their ‘bed’ was actually a cleaned out croissant tray and we shredded some brown packing paper to make soil. We stuck some eyes on the pom-poms, then it was a case of ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Ahoy!’

Duck was another toddler-friendly craft with lots of tissue paper stuck onto a cardboard duck. Sometimes the simple crafts are the most fun and effective.

Next up was the paper chains, because it’s not a birthday without paper chains. I found an umbrella shaped hole punch in Tiger (I’ve seen them in multiple stores) and set to work. ‘Umbrella’ in Sarah and Duck is red so I tried different methods of creating a red umbrella. Finally I opted to punch strips of yellow paper, then highlight the holes with red paper, which I think created a lovely effect. It was time consuming but looked pretty good, although I cut the red backing paper a little too narrow so from the back it looked a little messy. The Lamb didn’t mind though.

Another view of the paper chains and the paint blown ‘Moon’ to created a few weeks ago.

In one episode Sarah’s plant isn’t too well. It turns out that ‘Bug’ has been storing buttons in the flower pot. Sarah makes Bug a ‘Button’ bank so I filled a jar with my most colourful buttons and added a label. I think Bug would really like this little Bank, don’t you?

Some paper lanterns became ‘Moon’ and ‘Venus’ and more tissue paper helped create ‘Flamingo’ .

And of course, what would a birthday be without ‘Cake’. Fans of the show will know the talkative cake was make for Duck but ended up helping ‘Bread Man’ in his shop. And what flavour was the cake? Lemon drizzle of course!

Does your little one like Sarah and Duck? Have you thrown a Sarah and Duck themed party? Let me know!

If you like my work, follow me on Instagram!

100 Days of Happiness: Day Fourteen

Bit of an early start as we hit the beach for a relaxing walk. It was so lovely to see the pup and Lamb playing together And the bond growing between them. We also saw the Portuguese ‘man of war’ jellyfish which is apparently plaguing our local beaches at the moment. There was also digging, shell collecting and chasing waves. So much fun!

What made you happy today?

The Silence

It’s been a long week. To differing degrees we’ve all been ill (even the pup,) and we’re shattered. Hubby has gone to bed early, taking the pup with him and the toddler passed out, still clutching her favourite book, hours ago. I’ve just finished watching a silly horror movie and should be working on the review, but as I turned off the TV it hit me: The silence. 

It’s not totally silent, the heating is doing that low hum, the clock next door which hasn’t told the right time in months is ticking and I can hear people and cars outside but I close my eyes and it’s so quiet.


And yet…..

A new set of voices has been nagging me recently, demanding I tell their tale. There’s been muttering, waking me in the night with a snippet of dialogue, a name or an action scene, a delicate whisper whilst making tea or a shout as I prepare our bags for the day.

And tonight, in the silence, their voices are a roar. I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll be able to make sense of the assorted post it notes I’ve written on, that half-formed ideas will percolate and be brewed overnight and things will be a little more cohesive. They’re whispering their names, shyly letting me know their preferences, twirling their costumes and sharing their voices. They’re coalescing, becoming more real (or as real as the Lamb’s assorted imaginary friends). I’m learning their wants, desires and mostly their challenges. This band of beaten women who want me to tell their story, now have an enemy to face and it will be a hell of a battle!

In Search of Happiness

An old school friend, Kerensa undertook the ‘100 Days of Happiness Challenge’ back in  2014. To say she was in a challenging period is an understatement – her husband had sadly passed away, leaving her with a baby. She had to move her life back to the UK from the US, with all the assorted stress a house move takes, with the added challenge of shipping across continents then reestablishing her life in a new town. As she says herself, Kerensa was running on pure adrenaline and once that was gone, reality began to set in. In order to alleviate the mental fugue she undertook the challenge to take a photo every day of something which had made her happy, no matter how fleeting, and share it. It proved an inspiration for many of us to see her photos and hear how she was getting on.

Three years later, Kerensa has remarried and has a baby daughter. In honour of her first husband’s memory, she has decided to undertake the ‘100 Days Challenge’ again and I’ve decide to join her! Like so many, we’ve been facing our challenges here at Casa CH and I realised that even the ‘fun’ things are now starting to feel like an obligation. We’re also entering some of my favourite times of year – Halloween and Christmas but I know once the fairy lights come down, the melancholy sets in so it will be good for me to keep finding a little brightness in the winter.

Follow me on @bluebeaglebaby and check back here to see what has cheered me up during the day and let me know if you’re taking part too – I’d love to see your photos! 

Movie Review: Ink (2009)

Synopsis: As we sleep the Storyteller and Incubi battle for our dreams, and in the case of little Emma, for her very soul. Her father, John must journey to save her. Will he be able to save her from the strange creature ‘Ink‘?

Director: Jamin Winans

Starring: Christopher Soren Kelly, Quinn Hunchar and Jessica Duffy

Review: I watch a LOT of movies and have had a run of very bad films (check out my Reviews) so it was such a joy to discover ‘Ink’ (and the other film by Wimins, ‘Frame’ but more on that next week). I really, REALLY enjoyed it so prepare for gushing.

Where to start? The soundtrack, cinematography, originality of story and (the majority of the) acting is sublime.

The story: father John (Kelly) works too hard and doesn’t spend them with his daughter Emma (Hunchar). During a battle with the ‘Storytellers’ and the ‘Incubi’ Emma’s soul is stolen by ‘Ink’ who’s determined to use it to pay his way into the Incubi. Cue Storyteller Liev (Duffy) who vows to protect her while other Storytellers battle to safe them. Ok, so it doesn’t sound that original But Winans visual and style raise this above the usual fair. The opening battle between the Storytellers. And Incubi may not have the slick punches of a Hollywood blockbuster but it’s well choreographed and makes good use of the space. My favourite character is the blind man but Duffy emits an inner grace I can only aspire to.

The difference in colours between the real world, land of dreams and world of nightmares was a treat and I didn’t feel the changes pulled you out of the story. There’s also an interesting use of lighting, especially in the world of nightmares which I won’t spoil for you but which were very clever.

The sets and costumes were mixed, but didn’t suggest a lack of design or care in their creation. Again, this isn’t a big-budget film but I was extremely impressed with what was created using their budget. This is helped by the director’s use of different colour filters for each ‘land’.

The soundtrack is beautiful, a mix of haunting piano and some other arrangements. It fits perfectly with the director’s visuals and is my new favourite writing music.

But there have to be some negatives. A few of the actors give uneven performances, including Kelly which does make the movie feel disjointed. Other reviewers have complained about the visuals which they found jarring or too unusual to accept, or the lack of classification for this film – is it fantasy? A horror? Sci fi? But for me, it didn’t need classification, it was a beautiful movie which defied classification and was the stronger for it because it emcompassed so much.

So, there are a huge number of independent film makers out there, many of whom are doing (in my opinion!) amazing work and need our support. Winans visuals may not appeal to all but his beautiful storytelling and the haunting music means you’ll be thinking of ‘Ink’ long after the credits have finished.