Catkins and kittens

It’s Friday again!  The days are just whizzing past, aren’t they?  I was told this happened when you got older but I never believed it – and now I know it’s true! 🙂

How has your week been?  A good one, I hope, despite the continuing world turmoil.  It’s such a worrying time in so many ways but I’m trying to avoid the news reports of military action and instead focus on the good that is happening – not quite behind the scenes but alongside everything else: convoys of essential supplies and clothes;  people queuing up to offer accommodation as refugees arrive; prams left at railway stations for families with small children who arrive with nothing; people buying digital knitting and crochet patterns from Ukrainian sellers; people making Air BnB bookings in Ukraine that they will never stay in … the list goes on and on and I find this collective outpouring of love and goodwill makes the rest of the news slightly more bearable.  Of course, it would all be so much better if it wasn’t needed at all, but this is where we are.

Anyway, I expect you are here to get away from the news so I will distract you for a few minutes with photos of dog walks and kittens and a half-knitted sock.  You might want to get a brew if you haven’t got one already, because there’s a fair bit of kitten spam coming your way! 🙂

Shall we start with the half-knitted sock?

A blue, turquoise and white striped sock lies on a wooden table next to an orange mug with a sheep head on it and a ball of yarn in the same colour

There you go!  Progress on my Emergency Sock which came in from the car so that I could knit the heel flap without worrying about losing my needles in the car.  I’m onto the gusset now which always feels like the home straight (even though there’s just as far to go once the gusset is finished) and the Winter Icicle colours are just as lovely to knit as I remembered them from when the yarn was first launched.  It’s a real privilege to be able to knit with your own yarn colourway and I never take it for granted.  There’s also happy dancing going on here whenever I see or hear about someone else knitting with it too – it’s no wonder I’ve got socks that need darning! 🤣

I haven’t made a start on my Sheepers slippers yet that I showed you last week as I was thinking that I should wait until I had the 2-3 hours that the instructions said I would need, but I think I might take a look and see if it’s easy enough to do in short bursts here and there instead.  If I ever have a spare 2-3 hours, there’s a loooooong list of things that clamour to take up the time (not least the garden which is definitely in full Spring mode now) and I don’t want the slippers to get forgotten.  I’m hoping I’ll have something to show you next week!

I’ve also not started the socks that I’m intending to make with the new West Yorkshire Spinners Elements yarn that I showed you last week either.  There have been certain little furries who live with us now who are making knitting a little bit more difficult – and not at all because they’re chasing the yarn!  (Unfortunately, the needle cables are far more attractive …)

Which little furries would they be?  Surely not this pair, snuggled up together so calmly in their bed?  They’re not causing chaos are they?!

Two kittens are curled up in a blue plastic cat bed on top of a green towel and a red beanbag. The kitten on the left is tortoishell with black, ginger and white fur and the kitten on the right is tabby and white. They are both looking at the camera.

I think you’ve only got to look at Hattie on the left with her paws around Astrid’s neck to know that they are indeed Trouble with a capital T.  They’ve been (hopefully temporarily) re-named Basher and Smasher, or Smasher and Trasher, or Trasher and Trouble or the Teeny Terrors (all of these names have been used over the last week) because they have been causing riot and I have the photographic evidence to prove it!

First though, let me show you cats of a different kind … catkins!

These are the male catkins of the goat willow tree (Salix caprea) and I have always known them as pussy willow, although I think the tree is also known as a pussy willow tree (I had never heard of goat willow before I went to look for a link!).

Grey pussy willow catkins on a goat willow tree branch

I thought I had missed them this year as I hadn’t seen any around but I was obviously just looking in the wrong place!  These trees were in the Sankey Valley by the canal that the dog and I walk by – I know exactly how I’ve missed them as the last time we were here, the dog decided to swim across the brook to the other side and disappear into the woods, leaving me in a panic on the other bank.  Luckily, he came back after several hours a short while (but it felt like several hours), just at the point when I was thinking I would never see him again and wondering whether I should try to get over to the other bank to look for him (I was going to have to run all the way back to the bridge, I wasn’t about to swim!) and we haven’t been back since.

This week, dog firmly on his lead until we were past the brook, the trees were full of the catkins but mostly just turning into the yellow flowers …

Yellow catkins are appearing from the soft grey fur of the leaf casings

I prefer the silky grey cats paw catkins (just like silky kitten paws but without the claws …) so I was really glad to see them before they’re gone for another year.

A swan glided past us on the canal.  The swans on this canal are mute swans; you’ll probably have seen them in lots of other places around the country too – these are the ones that lift their wings into arch as they swim elegantly past.  This swan had its wings up too and you can sort of see that, but it was going pretty fast and my camera was finding it hard to focus.  Look at those reflections though!

A second swan approached us and I thought I’d try a close up to see if I could get a better picture.  I’ve discovered that close up photos with my phone can be a bit hit and miss sometimes and the swan itself is not too clear … but the reflections are even better!  They look like some kind of strange abstract painting!

We turned off the canal towpath onto another footpath that takes us past some horses’ fields.  They are all so muddy, I think the horses should be wearing wellies!

We stopped for a minute to chat to this pony …

A muddy black and white pony leans over a wire fence

It looks like it’s teetering on the only dry bit of the field, doesn’t it?!  You could also be forgiven for thinking that no one looks after it but I know that won’t be the case.  A friend of mine who owns a horse says that two minutes after she’s brushed hers, he’s back rolling in the mud again and I expect this pony is no different!

This pony is in a field full of muddy ponies, and there are huge piles of hay dotted around for them to eat as the ground is so muddy underfoot.  If you look behind the pony in the first photo, you can see that the next field is green and grassy and I expect that the next time the dog and I walk that way, the ponies will have moved into that field so that this one can recover.   It just goes to show how wet it has been over the last few weeks as pretty much every horses’ field that I’ve walked or driven past lately has looked the same.  Roll on drier weather!

This little chap watched us as we walked along.  I always chat to robins as they make me think of my Dad, and I like the way they look as if they’re really listening!

The dog and I squelched back to the car – it’s all very well walking through woods and on farm tracks but they are very squelchy at this time of year! – and went home for a brew.

The Teeny Terrors were waiting for us.

We’ve been letting them and the dog spend some time together every day under close supervision so that they can get used to all being in the shared space.  The dog is very keen for the kittens to run when he gets a bit close as I think he has every intention of chasing them, but thankfully they are not doing that but are standing their ground with them.  There haven’t been any claw incidents yet but there’s been a bit of spitting and lots of bottlebrush-tail-ing and the dog seems to be getting the message.  In fact, this felt like huge progress the other day …

I’d forgotten quite what it’s like to have kittens in the house.  They are into everything!

(The red heart in the chimney is attached to our Chimney Sheep draught excluder in case you wondered what it was 🙂 )

These kittens have soooo much energy, they’re like little fleas pinging about the room from one place to another – you think you know where they are but, oh no, they’re somewhere completely different!  They are also very fond of climbing.  They climb onto the chairs (that’s fine), they climb onto the table (not so fine but we clean it before dinner), onto the windowsill (uh oh, a bit higher) and in a new favourite game, up the curtains (oh no!).

and then they wrestle on the curtain pole until one of them decides to abseil down the curtains again, leaving the other at the top … and then the game starts all over again.

It’s a fuzzy photo because they don’t stop in the middle of a game.  Not even for blog post photos.

Look at those wild and staring eyes!  They do get themselves into a giddy state!

This was taken earlier today.  They were watching the dog from the stairs (yes, they have pulled the carpet off ) and I think he was probably right to go and get into his bed out of the way!

And then, all of a sudden, they run out of steam and you forgive them all of the chasing and the fighting and the rioting that takes up all the time you would otherwise spend knitting as you are having to hoick them off the curtain poles or catch them if you think they’re going to fall through the stairs.

I wouldn’t swap any of it.


And there we are for another week!  I’m hoping to get out in the garden this weekend and definitely to get a bit more knitting done – I hope you have a lovely weekend whatever you are doing, and I’ll catch up with you again soon! xx


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