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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 5d ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some mornings I wake early and can't get back to sleep. Sometimes I read, sometimes I knit and sometimes I open the blind and watch the sunrise sky. A couple of weeks back I was leaning out of the bedroom window just after the sun had risen and was sleepily daydreaming as I looked around our garden below. A flash of orange caught my eye, peeking out between the tangle of ivy overgrowing the chicken run and I probably frowned in puzzlement, but it soon became clear that the plastic mesh netting that keeps the chickens safely contained in their run makes rather a comfy hammock for a sleepy fox.

She was completely unbothered by me opening the window and taking pictures of her and carried on dozing in the warmth of the early morning sun for 20 minutes before stretching a little, grooming a little and then setting off on an impressive balancing act along the top edge of the run  - which is a good 9ft above the path. She stopped for a quick sniff and a wistful glance at the now empty bird box that the bluetits used to raise their family in, before a lithe leap back to the ground and a silent, sure-footed and typically foxy vanishing act.

She still arrives most evenings and some mornings for snacks. We've only caught a brief glimpse of one cub and that was a few weeks ago, and though the mortality rate of urban foxes is pretty high I'm hoping they're safe somewhere and she's just keeping them well hidden. I'm still thrilled to have the great privilege of her visits, she's still completely wild, intently alert and intelligently wary of us but she does seem to appreciate the snacks!

 

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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 2w ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We've had the perfect growing weather here recently - lots of rain and warm temperatures and everything in the garden and surrounding countryside is green and growing. In my little patch I've been planting some new fruit and herb plants. I've given up on growing veggies for now as they were lots of work for a rather meagre harvest - mostly thanks to cabbage white butterflies, aphids and a host of other chompers who set about nibbling my homegrown produce. Not that I really mind, planting herbs keeps things simple for me and I like to see creatures in my garden - chives, borage,  thyme and lavender are perfect plants for attracting bees and other wildlife.

I would much rather have a little corner of this Earth that is busy and brimming with life, unlike some of my neighbours it seems - two of them have recently had their 'gardens' worked on and carpeted with plastic fake grass - they are now sterile, dead squares surrounded by stark fences. And our immediate next door neighbour has just chopped down every tree and bush in their garden in favour of grass, including a really big and beautiful lilac that was a springtime magnet to so many butterflies and bees emerging from annual hibernation.

So, in an attempt to compensate the local wildlife, I'm happily letting things go a bit more wild in our garden and it lifts my spirits to see some of these tiny creatures that I'm sharing my garden with - lots of different bee species are happily buzzing from one chive head to another; many ladybird larvae are starting to cocoon up and transform into their adult form, and tiny yellow orb-weaver spiderlings that hatched on a hellebore are flinging out their silken strands, leaving their 300 or so siblings and heading out on their own.

Of course I'm very lucky to have larger visitors to my garden too. The fox is still calling in regularly and I've got some lovely pictures of her which I'll share soon.

Hope you find some tiny delights in your own corner of our beautiful Earth - if you have time to, please share what plants or creatures you are co-inhabiting with. 'Til next time x

 

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Hello and happy summer solstice. Just popping in here briefly today to let you know that I've just finished and uploaded the free deer supplement pattern over on Ravelry. Within it you will find instructions for knitting a pair of antlers and detailed notes on how to adapt either of my two fox patterns (Fox in a flowered frock or Fox in a star spangled sweater).

Please note that in order to make a complete deer toy you will need to have purchased one of these fox patterns and follow the full instructions within that, together with the instructions detailed in this free pattern supplement.

I'm looking forward to seeing the deer that are made using the pattern, so if you give it a go please come and share pictures of your project on the Little Cotton Rabbits Ravelry group. Hope you enjoy the new pattern,

J x

 

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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 1M ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Firstly, thank you so very much for all of the kind comments on the previous post. Things do get a bit wobbly here when routines are shaken up and it's hard to concentrate on anything in the school breaks when Toby needs 24 hour care, so it's easiest not to try - that way everyone stays calm and happy. During the recent half term break we had lots of wood walks and outdoor adventures but when we were at home and he was happily occupied I had a little time for some simple knitting - some nice undemanding projects that were easy to put down when he needed something. Knitting is the ultimate portable activity and I love that from a young age Toby has known that if he carries off my knitting bag I will follow. So in between keeping him safe and happy over half term, I was also following him around the house and nomadically finishing off some of my many W.I.P.s - mostly a case of weaving in the ends, which is something I seem to have a problem getting around to - most likely because it is the most boring bit of knitting something.

Finished projects:

The wristwarmers that I started in February. Just a simple ribbed tube with a little twisted cable detail (notes on them here), knitted in beautiful neppy Donegal yarn from Ocean Rose

The socks that I had just started knitting in the previous post using 'Wildflowers and honeycomb socks' pattern from Olivia at This Handmade Life. Yarn details are here.

A shawl that I started back in February, knitted from a lovely pattern by Tammy Gore called 'Out of winter' in the most gorgeous hand-dyed yarn that I am slightly obsessed with and now want to buy more of - 'Owl feather' from Grenouille

I might have cast on a couple of new projects too, mostly of the socky kind, but now that Toby is back at school again I have returned to animal knitting and have been working on a new pattern, which actually isn't new at all. I'll be writing this up as a free supplement pattern with instructions on using my existing fox patterns to knit deer - I'll explain in more detail soon :)

 

 

 

 

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In the depths of winter, when dusk arrives just after 3pm, my favourite place to sit and knit is snuggled up by the fire. But once the days start to lengthen and warm I'm itching to get outside and sit in the shade of the tree, with the touch of a warm breeze on my skin and the spring song of small birds in the tree above. The first outdoor knitting session of the season is always to be savoured and I am enjoying mine today.

It's been a bit of a tough week here. As you may know if you've visited me here before, my son Toby is severely autistic, non-verbal and has extreme behavioural and learning difficulties. Any change to established routines can cause him (and therefore us) a great deal of distress and due to factors outside of my control this has been a week where routines have been firmly out of the window. Today he has gone for a respite short break and so I am sitting here quietly re-charging my batteries with some gentle sock knitting and lots of tea in my beautiful new mug bought from the very talented Makiko Hastings. Such small things bring great pleasure here and by the time he comes home later today I will be feeling calm and refreshed and ready for the challenges of the school half term break next week.

I am deeply grateful that Toby currently has somewhere to go for occasional short break respite that is safe and caring. Though sadly only until he turns 18 in October, as after that he will be under adult services, and the thought of what may be available to him then is quite frankly terrifying. Here in the UK this week the current affairs programme Panorama has exposed abuse and violence at yet another facility 'caring' for autistic people. If you have a moment and feel that vulnerable individuals should be safeguarded from such torturous abuse, please could you sign the National Autistic Society change.org petition ?

Thinking about what the future holds for Toby and other young adults like him is frightening, and we will do absolutely everything in our power to keep caring for him here at home for as long as we are physically able to. But for today I am choosing not to think about that. Today, I am here in this moment with my tea and knitting and a little cheescakey treat :)  I hope your day is full of peace and pleasure and that those you love are safe and happy x

..............................................

Sock pattern: Wildflowers and honeycomb sock by This Handmade Life, details of the yarn and needles I'm using are here.

 

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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 2M ago

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier in the year I posted a picture of the fox peeking through our garden fence and she's been a fairly regular garden visitor ever since. When I first got a good look at her she seemed quite sleek and almost plump but more recently has seemed thinner, and thinking perhaps that food might be a bit scarce I've been offering her a meal whenever she turns up - she seems particularly fond of leerdammer cheese :)

She mostly visits after dark, but for the last few weeks she has been arriving earlier in the evening and sometimes in the early morning too (much to the disgust of the chickens). When she arrives in the garden I open the back door and throw a little food then stand very still and as a result she has come to tolerate me being there, only a few feet away - though always with a watchful and suspicious eye on me as she eats and tensed like a coiled spring ready to run if I make any sudden moves. I've no wish to tame or inhibit that wild instinct, it is a well honed survival mechanism and she needs it, but I will offer a small meal now and then to share the privilege of her company.

This morning she visited early and was content for me to take some pictures and while editing them on the computer just now I had a light-bulb moment. Can you see what was spotted in the last blurry picture there? The outline of swollen teats on her belly is a giveaway sign that she's was fatter and then thinner because she's just had a litter of cubs!

I'm under no illusion though about why she visits - she's very clearly focused on the plump and juicy feathered meals strutting up and down my chicken run. But if she's thrown a little food she graciously leaves them alone for the rest of the day and the chickens remain safe, though unsettled. They only get to forage under supervision now and the rest of the time are safely enclosed in the brilliant chicken run that H built - still predator proof after 10 years. There are definite signs though that the chickens are not happy about the interloper - I'd call this a protest wouldn't you? ...

 

 

 

 

We also have a lot of small garden birds visiting our little patch at the moment and on occasion larger ones too - I've had the pleasure of seeing this heron ungainly balanced on the roof opposite - I think one of my neighbours has a pond that he's eyeing up. It is such a privilege to have wild creatures as a regular garden visitors and I'm hoping that in a month or so that the fox might bring her little ones along to frolic on the grass - I'll try and have my camera ready if she does :) 

Well, I have had a nature filled week and am off to fill my weekend with knitting. Hope you have something nice in store for your weekend x

 

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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 2M ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's amazing how quickly the countryside changes as Spring takes hold. A slight rise in temperature, a sprinkling of spring rain and suddenly there are bright green leaves everywhere. It is a time of blossoming too - Spring brings many beautiful floral colours but my favourites are the frothy white blossoms that so many plants both big and small have at this time of year; hawthorn (May blossom), horse chestnut, wild cherry, apples and pears, white nettle, cow parsley, daisies and ramsons all are looking their beautiful best right now.

I headed to Hobby horse wood near Hertford Heath in search of woodland anemones, but was too late to see them at their best - I shall have to visit earlier next year. But at the orchard nature reserve in nearby Tewin the woods were carpeted with wild garlic and the fruit trees were in full blossom and buzzing with bees and trilling with bird song - I managed to get a picture of the elusive tree-creeper, though his head is out of focus because he never seems to keep still as he spirals up trunks in search of small insects.

Spring is in full glory out there and as I've been wandering and enjoying the white blossoms on my walks, I've been hearing the words of this poem and appreciating its sentiment,

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.
 
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
 
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
 
A. E. Houseman, A Shropshire Lad 2
 
 
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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 2M ago

 

 

 

 

Hello and sorry to have been absent for so long.

The school break times are a little bit of a challenge in our household - as always Toby finds the change in routine very unsettling and having him around 24/7, though lovely, is demanding, so not much else gets done. For most of April Amy was back from uni too, so I wanted to spend as much time with her as possible and we went off for a couple of lovely country walks together, just like the old days :)

I've got lots of beautiful blossomy pictures from our walks, but I'll show you those another time. Today I just wanted to pop in briefly, say hello, and post the pictures that I had planned to post a few weeks ago in order to wish you all a happy Easter. I had also planned to let you know that I've updated my free pattern for the Easter eggs to include an extra flower design and also to provide the pattern in a new pdf file. I know it's now too late for this year, but if you fancy knitting some Easter eggs for next year then you can download the free pattern here.

Because I liked the new spring flower design so much I've also popped it on a free dress supplement. You can download a free copy here. Please note that you'll need use it with one of my animal patterns that has a dress included or the seasonal dresses pattern, in order to have the instructions for the cast on and bodice (my entire range of patterns are here) - I like to share the free pattern supplements as a little thank you to those who are kind enough to support my work.

Well, I'm off to quietly knit a little this afternoon. I'm working on a batch of blue dressed animals (the first 3 of them are in the picture at the top of this post) which I hope to have ready to sell before the summer arrives properly. I'll share some progress updates here as the rest of them start coming together.

Hope to pop back again more regularly now that the school break is over and I have time to call my own again, see you soon x

 

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Earlier this year I started playing around with the idea of a mini version of my knitted bunnies. I wanted a pattern that was a little simpler to knit and construct than my regular sized animals (they are shown in the picture above for comparison), and I also wanted the little toy to be suitable for a baby or small child, so the clothes are all knitted on with no removable parts or buttons. 

The pattern started out as a boy and girl version of a bunny but as I was working on it I thought it might also be fun to also have an option for an unclothed version and once I'd fiddled around with that it also occurred to me that it might be nice to do a bear as well. So what I have finally ended up with is two new mix and match type patterns:

  • There's a girl version with instructions to make a bunny and a bear, with an attached dress and striped stockings but also has an option for a completely naked toy.
  • Then there's the same for a boy version, again with instructions for a bunny and bear and options for a naked version or a version wearing attached jumper and shorts.

The mini animals work out at 14cm/51/2 inches tall if knitted with DK yarn on 2.75mm/US 2 needles, but you can make a smaller version with 4ply yarn and 2.5mm needles, or a larger version with worsted weight yarn and 3mm needles.

Because there is a lot of cross-over between both the girl and boy patterns (the only difference is in the clothed body) I am offering a special discount of £2.50 for anyone who wants to buy both the boy and girl versions. In order to have this discount automatically applied you'll need to add both separate patterns to your shopping cart on Ravelry or my pattern shop, on Etsy I've listed both patterns together in a single listing with the discount already applied and also as separate patterns if you just wanted to purchase one of them.

With Easter coming up at the end of the month I though it might be good to share these patterns now as these little bunnies might make sweet Easter gifts. If you do use the patterns please come and share your projects on the ravelry group, I love seeing what people are making from my patterns and there are lots of friendly makers there who like admiring each other's projects.

Well that's it from me today. It's the start of the school break here and Amy is back with us for Easter so I'll not have much time to pop in here over the next few weeks, but I do want to share some other Spring things I've been knitting, so I hope to be back here next week with some pictures, 'til then have a lovely weekend x

.............................................................................................

PS: There is a chart for the little heart on the dress in the foreground over on my post about duplicate stitch and at the bottom of that same blog post I've also added a chart for the rose pattern that I've used previously on some animal dresses.

 

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Little Cotton Rabbits: crafts & knitting by Julie (little Cotton Rabbits) - 4M ago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It's been a perfect Spring day here today and as I spent most of last week inside it has been lovely to get out and let the cool March breezes blow away my cobwebs. I started my walk in the small and very pretty village of Westmill in East Hertfordshire. Ambling up the single main street, I passed the medieval church of St Mary the Virgin, its rough flint and stonework contrasting with the softly blushed blossoms of a beautiful old magnolia tree. There are some very pretty cottages in Westmill and all of the gardens were full of daffodils, primroses, chionodoxa and muscari, the best of the early spring flowers.

But the main reason I headed for Westmill is because I know that it's a good place to spot spring lambs and I wasn't disappointed. There were lots of them gamboling about in the spring sunshine and I was laughing out loud at their antics. They seemed to form into little gangs, frisking up and down the field and leaping and bucking with excitement and exuberant energy. A small straw bale seemed to be of particular interest to them and was the stage for lots of 'king of the castle' competitions. 

I've come home to knit up some lambs of my own and I'll pop back soon and show you what else I've been knitting here. 'Til then I hope the change of seasons is bring you pleasure - if you have time please leave me a comment and share what you're enjoying in your little patch of the world at the moment.

 

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