Belper Christmas Angels

I thought I would write an update about the Christmas Angel project. Knitters and Crocheters in Belper have been very busy this year making small angels as a Christmas Gift of Love for the people of the town. The project had been adopted by Belper Churches Together as their Christmas initiative but it has also been very much a community activity with hundreds of people getting involved.The Angels were made by local knitting/crochet groups, a 94 year old Oxfam Volunteer, a Town Clerk, residents of Spencer Grove Care Home, Church Leaders including the Vicar of St Peters, Chatterbox (a social group for adults with learning difficulties), the Blue Box Community, Photography Group enthusiasts, Open Gardens and Belper Garden Group members, Transition Belper, Church Craft Groups of all denominations, Creartii (a creative Art Centre in Belper), Woollen Woods knitters and crocheters and numerous individuals. Patterns had been passed to family members with some people producing a hundred or more. A new creative group was started at the Baptist Church to enable them to take part in the enterprise and this group which consists of church members and non-church goers plans to continue.Non knitters helped with adding tags to the angels, sorting them into boxes and hanging them out in the town. It was a real community effort. Angels were collected in boxes and placed in different churches. Each week more and more appeared. At the time of writing there are about 1800 angels and they are still appearing.
It was decided that the angels would start to appear in the town during Advent after the 4th of December. I was amazed how quickly they were taken home by people, and how much joy they gave. Gill and I went out early in the morning of December 4th and placed about 50 near the playground on Park Road and when I revisited the area at 11.00 they had all gone. We also placed them around the Christmas Tree on the Market Square and around the Railway Station and the same thing happened. It caused quite a buzz in the town as people searched for them and people put lots of lovely comments on Facebook using the hashtag #xmasangelHere are just a few of the comments:-
“Loved seeing the angels fill Belper today. Brought this lovely one home to live with us. Thanks to everyone who knitted them.”
“My two children managed to give 2 angels a good home today. What a beautiful idea. Thank you.x”
“Our youngest picked this one up from the library on Monday and keeps moving it around the tree, Merry Christmas.”“What a wonderful idea this is. It has been magical to see them popping up around town and my boys have enjoyed spotting them. Thank you to all who have contributed.”
“My Granddaughter found one in Belper Library and was very pleased to take it home. I’ve just been for a walk through Whitemoor park and there are lots tied to the railings. What a lovely idea.”
“My three-year-old daughter found one on the walk to nursery this morning and was so happy. It’s a lovely pink sparkly one that will be going on our tree. Thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to make these – it’s a lovely idea and it really is spreading cheer.”
“We found an angel this morning! Made my day and my little boys. Was so unexpected, but absolutely lovely. Thank you so much x”“Was at the railway station this morning and witnessed the delight from children and parents as they took one.”
“Belper is a brilliant place to live.”
“Thank you I am going to give this one to my terminally ill uncle”
“I am so pleased I have found this, I have looked for a Belper Rock but never found one. This has made my day.”
“We found them on the bottom of Mill Lane on a tree, by 10:30 they were all gone. My little girl wanted to take hers to school today, so we’ll hang it at home tonight. Thanks for making them, we loved seeing everyone finding them this morning” XX“Oh this is so lovely, well done to all involved, it was worth it”
“Wonderful idea…saw lady putting them on the bridge over the river going up to Shottle. Belper people are amazing”
“The children will love their angels – such a lovely idea, thank you very much xx”These comments give a picture of how people have felt and I would like to thank all those who made angels.
The project has given a lot of pleasure both for the makers and receivers of angels.

Feed the Birds

The days are getting colder and nights longer.  I think it is more important than ever to feed the birds.Birds give an enormous amount of pleasure and watching birds can also be good for our mental health as a study done by Exeter University has discovered.

People in neighbourhoods with more birds in them have better mental health, a study by Exeter University shows, regardless of whether they live in a leafy suburb or busy city.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4258450/Living-near-bird-life-improves-mental-health-says-study.html#ixzz4yxOWzL3e

I am very lucky to have a hawthorne bush/tree near to the  patio and close to the  windows which allows me to see all sorts of British Birds on a regular basis. I have found out by trial and error that sunflower hearts are their favourite food with fat balls and coconut shells.Each year I enjoy taking part in the Big Garden Bird watch. This takes place in January and only demands an hour of your time. The dates for next year are  27 – 29 January 2018. Registration opens 13 December 2017.
Read more at https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch#bMcE58RhsCAzIQyc.99

This year in our garden we have noticed an increase in Blue Tits, Long-Tailed Tits, Goldfinches and Bullfinches and a decline in Greenfinches. I think we must have had Blue Tits, Goldfinches and Long-Tailed Tits raising families close by  because at times the feeders have become very crowded.As I look out of the window whilst writing this I can see four goldfinches, two bullfinches and two house sparrows. One of my favourite visitors are a pair of Nuthatches but I have found these very difficult to photograph.We do have regular visits from squirrels but on the whole they don’t seem to do too much harm. If they stay too long we have to go outside and chase them away.We also get visits from the smallest of British birds the Wren and a couple of Starlings who enjoy the coconuts.

Nature and the Great War

A love of nature and the horror of World War One are not usually thought of as being connected. However having read the book ‘Where Poppies Blow’ by John Lewis-Stempel, I realise there is a connection.

During the war soldiers lived inside nature. There was no escape as they lived and fought in trenches dug out of the earth. There are lots of references to the natural world in the poems written during the war and in letters written home to family members. Many said it was a love of the British countryside that encouraged them to volunteer.

One of these was the poet Edward Thomas. When he was asked why he had volunteered for service in the army, he scooped up a handful of English earth and said, ‘Literally for this.’  He wrote a poem called Adlestrop in 1916. The poem was about what he had seen and how he had felt, when the train he was travelling in stopped at this small station, a few months before the start of war. This is one poem that I can remember learning in school and have always loved it as it paints a clear picture of a moment in time on a hot summer afternoon.

Photograph By John Mann

Adlestrop

Yes.  I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly.  It was late June.

The steam hissed.  Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.ºThis poem was written in 1916 about a journey taken in 1914 a few months before the start of the First World War. Edward Thomas was killed in France in April 1917.

Birds of the battlefields gave soldiers a spiritual uplift.
Here is part of a letter home written by Robert Sterling of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

‘I’ve been longing for some link with the normal universe detached from the storm….I did find such a link about three weeks ago. The enemy had just been shelling our reverse trenches, and a Belgian patrol behind us had been replying, when there fell a few minutes silence; and I still crouching expectantly in the trench, suddenly saw a pair of thrushes building a nest in a ‘bare ruin’d choir’ of a tree, only about five yards behind our line. At the same time a lark began to sing in the sky above the German trenches. It seemed almost incredible at the time, but now, whenever I think of these nest-builders and that all but ‘sightless song’, they seem to repeat in some degree the very essence of the Normal and Unchangeable Universe carrying on unhindered and careless amid the corpses and bullets and the madness.’

Bird watching was a popular hobby and lists were made of, ‘Birds seen on the British front line‘. Again there are many poems which include birds.

To a Skylark Behind Our Trenches
by Captain Edward De Stein

Thou little voice! Thou happy sprite,
How didst thou gain the air and light—
That sing’st so merrily?
How could such little wings
Give thee thy freedom from these dense
And fetid tombs—these burrows whence
We peer like frightened things?
In the free sky
Thou sail’st while here we crawl and creep
And fight and sleep
And die.

How canst thou sing while Nature lies
Bleeding and torn beneath thine eyes,
And the foul breath
Of rank decay hangs like a shroud
Over the fields the shell hath ploughed?
How canst thou sing, so gay and glad,
Whilst all the heavens are filled with death
And all the world is mad?
Yet sing! For at thy song
The tall trees stand up straight and strong
And stretch their twisted arms.
And smoke ascends from pleasant farms
And the shy flowers their odours give.
Once more the riven pastures smile,
And for a while
We live. 

Nature mattered in 1914-1918.

English Flowers in a Foreign Garden  by Lt Will Harvey

Snapdragon, sunflower, sweet-pea,
Flowers which fill the heart of me
With so sweet and bitter fancy:
Glowing rose and pensive pansy,
You that pierce me with a blade
Beat from molten memory.
With what art, how tenderly,
You heal the wounds that you have made!

Thrushes, finches, birds that beat
Magical and thrilling sweet
Little far-off fairy gongs:
Blackbird with your mellow songs,
Valiant robin, thieving sparrows.
Though you wound me as with arrows,
Still with you among these flowers
Surely I find my sweetest hours.

And of course the emblem of the Great War is a wildflower, the Flanders poppy.Red Poppies in the Corn by W. Campbell Galbraith

I’ve seen them in the morning light,
When white mists drifted by:
I’ve seen them in the dusk o’ night
Glow ‘gainst the starry sky.
The slender waving blossoms red,
Mid yellow fields forlorn:
A glory on the scene they shed,
Red Poppies in the Corn.

I’ve seen them, too, those blossoms red,
Show ‘gainst the Trench lines’ screen,
A crimson stream that waved and spread
Thro’ all the brown and green:
I’ve seen them dyed a deeper hue
Than ever nature gave,
Shell-torn from slopes on which they grew,
To cover many a grave.

Bright blossoms fair by nature set
Along the dusty ways,
You cheered us, in the battle’s fret,
Thro’ long and weary days:
You gave us hope: if fate be kind,
We’ll see that longed-for morn,
When home again we march and find
Red Poppies in the Corn.

I have placed a display in St Peter’s Church Belper with more information and I recommend the book, ‘Where Poppies Blow’ as a worthwhile read. To end this blog a couple of quotes from Private J.W. Graystone.

‘The woods looked simply glorious in the morning sun, and all nature was at its best. Fancy a war on in surroundings like this. It seems unthinkable.’
Private J.W. Graystone of his camp at Authie on the Somme.

‘How free nature is and what a call it makes to us in the Army! It makes us feel more and more how much we shall appreciate life when the war is over. No more being cooped up in smoky towns, spending our time in frivolous pleasures. Out into the country for us, but no army.’

The Joy of Autumn

Autumn is such a special season. There is fun to be had walking along kicking the fallen leaves, searching for conkers and brightly coloured berries. The season used to start on September 21st and it can be a bit confusing these days as media weather people start talking about it starting on September 1st. Acording to the Met Office, It depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological autumn.There are many poems about Autumn and the first line of a poem by John Keats is one that I find always comes to my mind.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.’One of the plants I love is Cow Parsley both when it is in flower and when the flowers are over, the lovely seed heads.I have recently started to crochet and at the moment I am crocheting a cow parsley pattern found on the Silver pebble website designed by Emma Mitchell. It is a free pattern which is fantastic. I have also bought the new book, Making Winter written by Emma. The book has lots of ideas of things to make during the Winter months. I enjoy searching for the different fungi that can be found particularly in ancient woodland.I have sewn my own fungi this year, something I have intended to do for a long time. I used a pattern downloaded from Ann Wood. This pattern is not free but not too expensive and the instructions are really comprehensive. I took a photo of this duck while on an Autumn ramble, not sure what sort of duck but they were enjoying some warm sunshine. I also loved these blackberry flowers but am not sure if they thought the season was Spring rather than Autumn. 

Tomorrow, the film.

Do you believe that climate change is happening? Are you worried about the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere and the air quality in towns and cities around the world? What about the damage that plastics are doing to our world. It can be very easy to feel that there is nothing we can do, the problems are too large and so it is easier to bury our heads in the sand.

There are things we can do and we can change but first we need to understand  the problem.  Last Saturday September 23rd, Amy and Ella came to Belper to talk about their campaign Kids Against Plastic. We also heard form Sue Macfarlane, a local Green party member who is passionate about this issue. Both talks were informative and inspiring and as a family we are more aware of single use plastic and things we can do to limit the plastic in our lives.

There are so many issues and which one to concentrate on? I was very lucky to see the film ‘Tomorrow’ which is a 2015 French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent. Parts of the film are subtitled but much of it is in English. This film has the distinction of not giving in to catastrophism but optimistically travels to ten countries and gives us examples  of local communities working together to find solutions to environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

There is to be a free showing of the film in Belper on October 27th in St Peters Church, Chesterfield Road, Belper, DE56 1EZ.  Doors open at 7.00 pm for refreshments with the film starting at 7.30pm. This is a really exciting opportunity and it is thanks to Transition Belper and St Peters Parish for making it available to everyone free of charge.So that people can have a better idea of what to expect I have copied and pasted the words below from the films website www.demain-lefilm.com

THE STORY

Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. After a special briefing for the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of mankind before the end of the 21st century, Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, together with a team of four people, carried out an investigation in ten different countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it.

During their journey, they met the pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education. Joining those concrete and positive actions which are already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world…

You will find below some of the characters and contributors met by the DEMAIN team during its journey in 10 countries. Among those not mentioned are :

the Detroit urban farming movement ; Incredible Edible in Todmorden (GB) ; Copenhagen citizens and representatives ; Eric Scotto, Akuo Energie CEO ; Guðni Jóhannesson, general manager of the Icelandic National Energy Authority; the Bristol Pound team ; Hervé Dubois, spokesman of the WIR bank in Basel ; Michael Schuman, economist, ;members of BALLE ( Business Alliance fot Local Living Economies); people  of the Kitchenware Revolution in Iceland…

Please ask friends and family along to see the free showing of this truly inspiring film.

Adopt a Tree in Belper

In the town of Belper people are starting to think about next years Art Festival. Unlike many Art Festivals, the one held each year in Belper is a community event, a festival of inclusivity, not exclusivity and everyone is welcome to take part.Belper Art Trail has already posted on their Facebook page asking for ideas for next years trail which is one element of the whole Art Festival.

The planning for next years art trail has begun.
Next year we really would love to get Belper looking amazing.
It will be our 5th year, so its a bit of a celebration.

We’re always looking to include everybody…
So, we want to encourage you to put your ideas forward.
If you would like to Yarnbomb the King Street trees, that would be amazing.
if you would like to do some street art and add to the lonely old Tardis.
If you have any other installation ideas (permanent or temporary)- we would absolutely love to hear from you.

Let’s make Belper a brilliant place to visit next May.
To do this we really need your help..
Please get in touch.
Comment HERE or drop us an email at info@belperarts.org’

The title of this post is ‘Adopt a Tree’ because we are looking for groups or individuals to adopt one of the trees in King Street.  I have measured the trees and hope that the trunks will be surrounded with something woolly, knitted, crocheted or felted. It would be fantastic if as a town we could show visitors to the Art Festival all the different things that take place in the town of Belper.

I am hoping that some of the many local groups will get in touch to decorate a tree to promote what they are doing in the town. Here are some trees I decorated as part of the Six Streets Festival in 2012.

If you would like to adopt a tree you can comment on this blog, send a message on Anne Clark Handmade Facebook page or email anneclarkhandmade@gmail.com

Here are some other photos from trees made by others.

Belper Goes Green Fun Palace

Belper Goes Green 2017 happened during the first week of June. This year the dates were June 2 – 4th. The Friday evening as always was filled with beer and music. During the day on Saturday and Sunday there was an amazing amount on offer, plenty of food, drink, children’s activities, adult information stalls, handmade retail sales, talks including Talking Books, a variety of performances, numerous workshops and places to be quiet and meditate. Saturday evening was once again full of musical entertainment. Belper Goes Green is a local Eco Festival which is part of Belper Transition Group. Next year 2018 will be the sixth event and will take place once again on the first week of June, June 1st – 3rd. The part of the festival that I was involved with were the free workshops for both children and adults available in the Fun Palace Tent. Fun Palaces take place all over the world during the first weekend of October. Last year I was involved with the first one held in Belper. It was a great success and so it was decided to have Fun Palace workshops at Belper Goes Green. Fun Palaces are aimed at everyone with both artistic and scientific  activities, ‘Everyone an Artist, Everyone a Scientist.’ Continue reading Belper Goes Green Fun Palace

Art Walk in Sheffield

We went for an art walk in the city of Sheffield a few days ago. It’s not a city I know very well but I was really impressed. I don’t like visiting shopping centres because they are all very much the same, with the same shops and these days I only go shopping when I need something.

We travelled by train and the first place that impressed me was the Railway Station. The station itself has been refurbished about a couple of years ago and outside all the water features are very impressive. The area at the front of the station is Sheaf Square, once a car park but now a fantastic welcoming open space.  Continue reading Art Walk in Sheffield

Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Padley Gorge is a fantastic almost magical place to visit. It is easy to access from Grindleford Railway Station. You can still get to this Station by train but it is much easier if travelling from Sheffield or Manchester. The train in the photo is going into Totley Tunnel which has a date above the entrance of 1883. It was the longest Railway tunnel in the U.K. up until 1985.Unfortunately it’s not so easy by train from Belper as you need to go to Derby, change to a Sheffield train and then change again for Grindleford. Consequently we travelled by car and luckily found there was plenty of parking on the road down to Grindleford Station. The old station building has been converted into a cafe which came third in the Guardian newspapers list of ten best Station cafes. The food is all homecooked and tea comes in half pints or pints. Continue reading Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Christmas Angels

The plan is to get as many people as possible to knit, crochet or felt, small angels. I have added a few patterns to this blog but you can use your own pattern as long as the angel is small. Once the angels are created and we hope for about 600-800 they will be placed around the town of Belper early on the morning of Monday December 18th.

One of the local Care Homes has already started knitting and here is a photo of some of their angels.These angels have faces and hair but this is entirely up to the maker. The ones I have made so far are very simple with no facial details.

Here is the pattern for this angel. It is a pdf pattern that you can print out.

Angel 1

If you prefer here is the pattern in the body of this blog.

KNITTED ANGEL

HEAD AND BODY

Cast on 36 stitches using double knitting yarn and size 3mm needles. Knit 3 rows.
(K2 tog, knit 7) repeat 3 times, 32 sts.
Knit 1 row.

Purl 1 row.

(k2 tog, knit 6), repeat 3 times, 28 sts.
Knit 2 rows.
Purl 1 row.
(Knit 2 tog, knit 5), repeat 3 times, 24 sts. Purl 1 row.
Knit 2 rows.
(K2 tog k4), repeat 3 times, 20 sts.
Purl 1 row.
Knit 2 rows.
(K2 tog, knit 3), repeat 3 times, 16 sts.
Purl 1row. (K2 tog), repeat across row, 8 sts. Purl 1 row.
Kfb in each st, 16 sts.
Starting with a purl row stocking stitch 7 rows. K2 tog across row, 8 sts.
P2 tog across row, 4 sts.

Thread yarn through these 4 stitches and from the wrong side sew up theback seam. Put a little stuffing into the head of the angel and then sew a row of running stitches around the neck and pull tight.

WINGS:

Cast on 21 sts on needle size 3 mm. K 1 row from RS. Then work short rows as follows: * K 7, turn and K back, K 1 row over all sts *,
repeat from *-* 6 times in total.

Then * K 2 tog, K 6, turn and K back, K 1 row over all sts *, repeat from *-*until there are 15 sts on needle.

*K 2 tog, K the rest of row *, repeat from *-* until 9 sts remain, cast off.

Sew wings to the back of the body with a line of stitches down the middle of

There is another simple pattern that I like to use which I will add to this blog. For all the patterns I use double knitting yarn and size 3mm needles to make sure the knitting is nice and tight. Also colour is a personal choice. The angels look good all knitted in white but I have also done some in purple, shocking pink, yellow and even striped.

Christmas Angel Pattern This pattern does say to use size 3.25 or size 4mm needles but as I mentioned before I always use size 3 mm to keep the knitting tight.

When the angels have been made we have a collection point in St Peter’s Church Belper or you can contact me through this blog.