Sunday, 28 February 2016


Warning this is a Ninja Heavy post.
Some of you who follow me on Instagram or The Ninja Knitters on Facebook may already know what we have been up to.
Yesterday morning it was cold down here on the coast.

Ninja One and T.N.T Ninja wrapped up warm (but not warm enough) and headed down the hill into Hastings Old Town.
Butler's Gap on George St to be precise.


For the past 6 months they had been crocheting quietly away, utilising evenings in front of the T.V and many many work related train journeys to dream of spring.
Some Ninja's even dyed their own yarn, apparently the shop bought stuff just didn't have the right depth and variation of colour. 
Some Ninja's, apparently, are showing off.

They were ably abetted by Ninja Dusty Box, but she was too clever to get dressed and come with us on such a frosty morning.
By the time we had finished neither fingers nor toes could be felt and the temptation to bin the last 40 odd blooms and run to a cafe to warm up was almost overwhelming.
But we are professionals.
We stuck it out.
We made sure that Spring has most defiantly arrived in our little corner of the south east.
So sit back, enjoy the ride and bask in the fact that Spring has sprung.

Love Ninja One xxx

Sunday, 21 February 2016


I have spent the winter months dreaming of Spring.

Crocheting up my own little Spring.

The Ninjas are planning to spring Spring upon us soon.

The ends of the yarn are all for the birds.

We are spending the weekend in the ancestorial flat lands of the Hippy, safe in the centre of the extended family.
The youngest member of the tribe and I spent a happy time finding special places to leave the ends of the Spring yarn. Strategically placed for birdies to swoop down and use in the nest building.

We are hoping that when the birds have built their nests there may be the odd disco themed one with a little bit of sparkle in it.

So many ends now scattered. But so many Spring blooms still waiting for leaves.

Not long to go now, watch this space Spring will be sprung soon.
Love Nora xxxx

Tuesday, 16 February 2016


Some days it feels like life is but a fiction.

Today our lives were a scarily accurate representation of this charming little book.

We went to the gallery.
We saw inspiring art.

This one is by Shozo Shimamoto.
Luckily we didn't have to have this conversation... (Yet)

We are now back home with a cup of tea calm the nerves and a spot of crochet to soothe the mind.

There is only so much high culture one can endure with a moody 12 yr old and a pair of fighting younger boys.
Love Nora xxx

Saturday, 30 January 2016


Hello my friends.
Let me start with a thank you.
Thank you for the encouraging heart warming comments you have been leaving, thank you for believing what we are doing is the right thing, thank you for the offers of help and thank you for continuing to read these ramblings and visit. Especially when I am so rude as to not always pay a return call and rarely comment these days.

So, where did I leave you last time?
Oh that's right standing yet again on the crumbling edge of a cliff waiting for the story to limp towards its conclusion. To recap, The very short version of what has happened is...
Lots of refuges making perilous traumatic journeys from all over the world to try and get to the relative safety of Europe.
Compassion overload from many people.
Me feeling impotent in the face of such horror, teaming up with my new friend Anna to try and sew the world back together.
Initial experiments would appear to be successful.
With me so far?
(If You want to read the full version you can do so here, but you may want to settle down for the long haul with a cup of tea to do that.)
After the success of our bird making workshop people were constantly asking for more. Many people hadn't been able to make it, many people just had the bug and wanted to make more.
I thought maybe some very simple instructions with the pattern attached I could email out to people with an address to send them back to.

Then with only 3 weeks to go till Christmas some bright spark said, why don't you make them up into kits to sell? 
Yes said I but its only 3 weeks till Christmas and I haven't done my shopping yet and have work deadlines coming out of my ears.
But now is the perfect time to do it Jane, the bright sparks said back.
Yes but... Said I
This went on for about half a day before I admitted defeat and called Anna.
Yes said she.
Am I mad? Said I 
Yes! Said she. Let's do it.
Phone calls were made, favours from friends called in, frantic over night ordering of threads, needles, pins and stuffing was made.
A mad impromptu photo tutorial was made.
But most importantly at this stage The Mad Old Cat Lady herself came on board.
Our good friend Fishy took away the jumble of images we had for the tutorial, deciphered my scribbles and created the most beautiful instruction booklet for us. 
She designed labels and stickers and printed every thing out.
Then on a cold, wet and windy evening in early December 15 of us gathered in Anna's sewing parlour.

Some wound thread, some stuffed stuffing in bags, some counted and pinned pins, others folded instructions and stuck stickers and yet more cut big bits of fabric in to small oblongs of fabric.

At the end of the night 150 kits were sitting in the window waiting to be sold.

Quite a gamble. I can't say I wasn't nervous and yet with a minimum of advertising they flew off the shelves.
Gone! I tell you gone!
How long did they take to go?
Three days!
By which point Anna and I were exhausted, and yet the interest had only just started.
The lovely Lexie came on board and took over the social media stuff for us. She has been twittering away for weeks building interest and shoe horning what we are doing in to every possible situation.
She also set up our Facebook page for us which has grown massively in the few weeks it has been up and running.
So what next?
Well more kits are being made up and an online store opened for people to buy them.
We are holding another workshop here in Hastings in the evening of 25th Feb from 7pm. A children's bird making workshop has been booked for 18th Feb at 11 O'clock sewing for the greater good the junior version followed by a film, slap in the middle of half term. Both at The Observer Building where Dublin and Holland have been a constant support to all our endeavours.
The money raised from the sale of the kits will in part go towards helping fund the work Hastings Supports Refugees is doing.
But the other part, the part that I am finding most exciting will be developing the kits into an art therapy resource that can be used by volunteers working with refugees.
We are hoping to be working with The School Bus Project initially in this regard, but are now actively scouting for more leads and contacts.
Some of the birds people have made up in the kits have already flown back to us to be sent on to the Children we are all desperately trying to help.
So here is the rub, we need your help.
We need to spread the word, we need shops to stock our kits, we need people to buy the kits, we want people to host workshops for us in areas we can't get to and then send us lovely boxes of birds.
So what can you do?
Well the easiest thing to do is like and share out Facebook page.
Talk about us on Twitter and instargram using the #abirdinthehandproject and #sewingforthegreatergood
 But if you would like to help in other ways especially in hosting a bird making evening, then please get in contact.
We are all novices at this and feeling our way. It's exciting but also rather daunting.
And basically watch this space, the online shop will be up and running very soon for anyone who wants a kit of their own.
Well that's it folks, I appear to finally come to the end of this particular chapter, defiantly not the end of the story.
 Love Nora xxx

Friday, 22 January 2016


And so it turns out I am not as good at being back here as I thought I was.
A week has gone by. 
I left you all dangling mid air teased by the announcement of an announcement soon to be made.
I was amazed so many of you were still out there, still reading my rambling. 
Still leaving heart warming comments.
Thank you all it mad me feel very loved.
Ya ya ya, what ever, cut to the quick you soppy old bag, people are waiting here you know.
I think the reasons I stopped blogging can be left for another day. I'm not totally sure I understand them my self.
But I was waiting for something to come along that was important enough for me to start writing again.
Although part of the reason I stopped blogging was because I became so involved in what I'm about to talk about.
Told you it was complicated didn't I?
It all started in August.
After becoming increasingly upset about the refugee situation in Calais I had a conversation with my Mum. The conclusion of which was, while it is a lot of money, I could easily afford to spend £50 on aid to Calais and it would not leave me destitute. It would may be mean a few less treats for the boys that month, or no new clothes for me, or missing out on a family trip to the cinema. But £50 could if spent well make a huge difference to people with nothing. 
Next came a meal out with friends where the same conversation was had and more importantly a decision was reached. We would all put in what we thought we could afford and find a way to get aid out to Calais.
Things spiralled. 
I met likeminded people on Facebook, we met an amazing woman who was going out to Calais as a volunteer to help in "the jungle".
I went shopping. Others collected blankets, sleeping bags, warm clothing and food. 
My Mum and her partner, Barry,  donated £100 that we spent on tarpaulins.
All the while the crisis is becoming worse hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing war and persecution and making their way to the safety of Europe. 
We realised we needed an easier way to communicate, we set up a Facebook group.  
Hastings supports refugees, with the idea that the few of us could communicate more easily. 
4 months later we have well over 1000 members.
We have sent a huge shipment of children's clothing packs and shoes to the Greek Island of Leros.
We send clothing, firewood, blankets, sleeping bags regularly out to Calais.
We have helped to fund volunteers to go to Calais.
We have raised money for volunteers to spend on aid in Lesbos, Greece.
We have raised enough money for UNHCR accredited shelters to house refugees.
We have donated money to the Humming bird project for shelter building.
We are helping fund projects working directly with unaccompanied minors in Calais.
The list goes on and on.
The fund raising goes on and on.
We are a small team of admin who run our group and we are trying ever more inventive ways of raising the money to help.
We have to fall back on our strengths.
Mine is sewing.
But what to do. 
I can hardly embroider the world back together.
The cracks are too big to be darned.
Or are they?
Together with Anna Winston of La La Rookh I decided to do a bit of sewing for the greater good.
And so the "Bird in the Hand Project" was born.
Making little hand sized birds for the hands of little refugees.
Birds are often seen as symbols of hope and peace. What could be more apt.
We started small (ish) with a making evening.
We were over whelmed by the response. 45 people came to make birds with us in late November to be sent with the children's clothing packs to Greece.
45 women and children and big beardy men, A group of Eritreans now living in Hastings came along to help via Links a local organisation working with asylum seekers in our area.
And every one was clamouring for more.
This was about to become sewing for the greater good on an enormous scale.
This tale is long and complicated, some of the major players in it haven't even been introduced yet.
So I am going to yet again leave you on the precipice of the cliff.
Next time I shall tell you how our little birds have taken flight.
If you are still with me thank you. It has been a wordy old post with few pictures.
Love Nora xxx
PS: The FB link to the refugee group will take you to our public page rather than the closed group.

Thursday, 14 January 2016


Any one out there?
It's every so dusty round here.
Mice have got in the biscuit tin, there are no tea bags left and the milk has turned into a new and interesting life form.
6 months is a long time to be away.
I never meant to go away for so long.
But inspiration got up and left.
Life became a long hard slog.
Writing became an impossibility.
I have been waiting to see how long it would go on. 
To see if I wanted to come back.
Turns out I do.
As I type I can feel the old spirit returning.
There are things happening here in Flaming Nora land.
Big things, exciting things.
Things I shall tell you about soon.
In the meantime here is a picture of some very special kissing birds.
They are what I am going to be telling you all about when I have finished cleaning up round here.
I'm off to open the windows, run the feather duster round and plump up the cushions.
I would love it if you come back to say hello.
Much love to one and all
Nora xxx

Monday, 13 July 2015


Recently I have found my interest in dyeing yarn has been revived.
I have been contemplating and cogitating on the idea of eco dyes.
A long time ago I bought a big tub of Turmeric with this in mind.
The other day I dusted it off and mixed some of it up into a paste in a big old dye pot along with a dose of Alum. 
This lot are a selection of cotton yarns that I have gathered over the years from various charity shops and car boot sales.

After I had finished with the yarn I decided to have some fun with some old napkins and scraps of old embroidered table cloths.

Very happy all round with the results.
Love Nora xxx