A Question for the New Year

One of the people whose books I have enjoyed over the last year or so is an American Christian called Barbara Brown Taylor. She is an Episcopal (Anglican) priest, a teacher and a writer. What I enjoy is her slightly sideways take on life and faith. She always has something to say that jolts me out of the same old ways of thinking and makes me think afresh about faith. One of her best known books is An Altar in the World – finding the sacred beneath our feet (2009).

In this book, she looks at the very ordinary things of life and sees how God is at work in them. She says that we don’t have to be in special places doing special things to find God, but that God is at work in and through us and in and through our everyday lives. She encourages us to make the ordinary special by pausing and sensing God at work in what might be for us unexpected places and ways.

She also says that the book is her response to a conversation:

Many years ago now, a wise old priest invited me to come speak at his church in Alabama.

‘What do you want me to talk about?’ I asked him.

‘Come tell us what is saving your life right now’, he answered.

That’s a good question for a new year: what is saving my life right now?


Thoughts for the New Year 2014

I am just emerging from the blur of December activities, Christmas Services and New Year late nights – it is a busy time of year for Vicars!


So far, 2014 has mostly been about death – 3 here in the first days of 2014. That certainly concentrates the mind on living well. Having spent some time to see the families and sort out the funerals , I am now trying to take some time off  to rest and to think about the year ahead.

I have never been good at New Year’s Resolutions, so I have decided to go back again to some favourite prayers and pieces of writing to set the tone for the year.

This prayer is attributed to Sir Francis Drake, and it is one that encourages me whenever I read it. It is a good one to take into an unknown year ahead.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.


Willow Weaving

On Saturday, we had a willow weaving workshop and made wreaths for Christmas.

We made the wreaths by weaving wet willow wands…


Then we could get really creative – Leilah had brought lots of greenery and lovely decorations…


The finished wreaths were all very different.


It was a great morning, and we hope to put on some more workshops.

In the future, we hope to learn to make baskets and willow sculptures.

Advent Sunday

Advent, the season of waiting, begins today.

In her book, The Cloister Walk, Kathleen Norris writes of the arrival of Advent in a Benedictine monastery where she was staying,

The long summer of Ordinary Time had dragged on and on, and several monks commented that they were ready for a change of season. For people who live by the liturgical year, the transition into Advent can be as physically invigorating as the shift from summer into fall, and on the first Sunday of Advent, in late November, the air was charged with expectation.

The waiting of Advent is an active waiting, a time of thoughtful preparation as we get ready for the coming of Christ.

A prayer for this week:

Lord Jesus, Light of the World, born in David’s city of Bethlehem, born like him to be a king: be born in our hearts this Christmastide, be king of our lives today. Amen

Swaledale Craft Group

The Swaledale Craft Group (well…the ‘meeting to chat and eat cake’ with crafting group…) continues to meet and new people join us all the time.

Knitting Group 002

We meet on Thursdays, in a variety of locations, mostly in Reeth. Send me an email if you would like more details –

In the group, skills and lives are shared, we admire all the work produced and encourage each other to finish those started things…

Knitting Group 005

PS to the last entry – We had a great time  at Watershed Mill. The quilt shop shop is small, but well stocked, and the staff were friendly and helpful. Another trip beckons next summer, when we can spend more time in Settle as well.

A New Quilt Shop

I picked up a card at The Festival of Quilts which gave details of a new quilting supplies shop in Settle, a town within driving distance of here for a day trip.

A group of us – me, Kate, Kris and a variety of others – like to go on ‘adventures’, especially if it involves fabric shopping, so we are planning to head for Settle this week to investigate ‘Quilting Antics’ at Watershed Mill.

Here is the web link:

We note there is a coffee shop too…

Expedition report to follow!

watershed mill

A Summer’s Day

Here is a picture of me in our conservation churchyard at Grinton, taken earlier in the year:


Caroline at St Andrew's

Red and Blue Quilt

Red and Blue

I made the top for this quilt about 4 years ago.

It is red and blue again – you might have spotted my favourite colours to work with as you have looked at the quilts on this blog.

I took it out of the cupboard earlier this year when I needed something to take to work on at our craft group, and it has been quilted there, bit by bit and week by week, and in between gossip and news.

The quilting is finally finished, but I don’t have enough red fabric to do the binding, so that will have to wait for a trip to a quilt shop (soon!)

Mice in the USA

The mice have gone west!

A schoolfriend of mine, John Bell, lives in California. He ordered a mouse for each of his 5 children, by way of support.

Here they are enjoying themselves in the Californian sunshine…


mice in America

Beware of the Dangerous Mice…

Bowl of Mice

My mice have been sold until now, along with other hand made crafts, in a shop called Fatsheep – – on the green in Reeth in Swaledale, a village that has featured on ITV’s series The Dales.

The Tour de France will pass through Reeth next summer and those who work in the tourism industry, including the proprietor of Fatsheep, have been gearing up for the many visitors that this great event will bring.

The shop sells ‘anything made in the Yorkshire Dales’ and works with many local craftspeople. They supply everything in the shop from wood turned bowls to woven hats and natural soaps.

Trading Standards visited the shop anonymously last week and bought the craft items. They have been contacting makers this week, telling them that their work is illegal and not to be sold.

My mice – like the ones in the picture – are, apparently, ‘dangerous’ – because they are filled with washed sheep’s wool, have bead eyes and the seams are sewn by hand. Terrifying!
The problem seems to be that hand crafted items are not machine made, uniform and heavily tested for safety. Rather, they are unique, beautiful hand crafts made by small scale craftspeople, which don’t fit the legal tick boxes.

Around the country, talented crafters are giving up their work because they are unable to sell what they make. Often this is because of this kind of heavy handed approach to the law by Trading Standards.

Beware of the dangerous mice….

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