not your average zoe

life, love and knitting

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tadaa! knitted puppet

As usual (I love that I wrote that, it’s merely a 2 year tradition), Stepson and I made boxes for Operation Shoebox to send across the world as a parcel of love for those in need.  He chose a 10-14year old boy, and I prepared a box for a 5-9year old girl.

As part of my box I knitted up a pattern from their site, a puppet in the vague shape of a teddy bear, and tadaa! Here it is!

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Have you completed any projects recently?



Ad fontes

Today I have the privilege of working with Pia from Noget Uldent!

New summer #hair, thanks to my lovely mum!

A post shared by Pia (@psjuulsen) on

Isn’t she just beautiful?  She’s written us a guest post all about her need to “do” and, sister, I’m with ya…

So here we go.  Enjoy!  (and if you do, make sure to pop over to her blog and tell her so)


Here’s something you may or may not know about me: I like doing things from scratch. I’m willing to go a step back in any process at least once and thankfully I found a man just as odd as me. This translates into our cooking, breads and pastas are all made from scratch, as is pretty much anything else that goes on in our kitchen.

The 2014 Jelly Making is now officially done! We got 2ltr. Juice and 11 glasses..

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#rhubarb crumble.. Nom nom

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It translates to my field of study as well, as a theology student, I labour over Old Testament Hebrew, New Testament Greek and the Latin of the church fathers, to words that have in a sense become a lifestyle for me: ad fontes and it doesn’t stop there.

#knitting waves and studying 1 Timothy in Greek… #knistagram #knittersofinstagram

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In a pursuit of a more natural, simple and in many ways minimalistic life, I’m on a lifelong journey  towards becoming an old-fashioned generalist, instead of the prevailing specialists of our day and age. As knitters (or crocheters and weavers) we have the almost magical ability to make cloth. This skill allows us to clothe ourselves and our loved ones, in a way that is off limits to those not in the know. Once upon a time, this was a valuable skill, a skill everyone possessed, a life securing skill. Today it’s a recreational activity, but valuable nonetheless. Knitting allows us to take a step back, in creating our own clothes we are in a sense liberated.

Knitting is, however, only the first step back in a long sequence guiding us back to the animal or the plant. Spinning is the next step, then comes preparing the fibre ourselves, harvesting the fibre and finally raising the fibre. Every one of these steps allows us a closer connectivity to the land and  speaking as the theology student I am, to our creator.

The worst part of #spinning #yarn is the 24h or so wait before you should #ply…

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With every step mastered comes a sense of empowerment and joy. As we move ever closer to the source we make the circle of our activities smaller. We gain control over how our fibre is raised and processed, we gain the knowledge to pass on to the next generation and I fully believe we gain a deeper appreciation for our crafts.

It can be challenging to take the next step back and your journey will be different than mine that much I’m sure of. We live in a world where we don’t have to do everything ourselves and if you don’t enjoy spinning, then please don’t do it. After all it is in deed a recreational activity we are talking about here, you and yours will be clothed no matter what. I do, however, strongly encourage you to look at where you are in you fibre journey and find out what the next step back for you would be. Now that you’ve gained that awareness, then please take the leap and try it hands on. You may find that your love of your craft just just rose to a unexpected new level.

Enjoying a #spinning break from all the studying 🙂

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So now it’s your turn.  Share in the comments where you are and what the next step back towards the source is for you!

A happy #brunch monster

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Thanks Pia!

Please note that all photos are Pia’s from her Instagram account and I just picked the pretty ones I felt fitted – I hold no personal copyright for them, nor do I claim to.


WIP Wednesday – blanket

Since about April/May my knitting group and I (at my request) have been making 8″ squares out of acrylic to form a lap blanket for a Retirement home.

This was triggered by my being donated 2 bin liners full of acrylic by a daughter-in-law whose mother-in-law had been a crafter, and had just gone into a home.

Husband spent a happy (?) time photographing the completed squares – next step would be for me to sew them together!






























a month of random acts of kindness

Since Easter I have been trying to carry out as many random acts of kindness as I possibly could.  Small gestures that might make things a little better/lighter/happier/easier for other people.  Then I thought it might be nice to share them here as I always used to think they had to be grand gestures like all-expenses paid trips to Disneyland Florida for a dying child and their family of 5 which would be totally out of my reach.  Whilst those have their place, I’m hoping that you’ll appreciate that I’m trying to make these tokens of generosity a daily contribution to making my corner of society a nicer place to be.

My acts:

  • 3 doors held open for others
  • 10 cars let in front of me
  • 1 car park ticket passed on with 45 minutes left to run
  • countless smiles to strangers
  • a “thank you” to every cashier, barista and waiter/waitress
  • 2 charity shop bags donated
  • 1 session of listening to a worried teacher talking about an ambiguous lesson observation feedback session
  • 1 reassurance session that a different year group may be a new love for said teacher
  • 1 random buying of a lunch meal deal for the stranger behind me in the queue (the cashier was more confused than anyone else)
  • taken 2 bin liners of yarn from people who gave them to me unwanted, to knitting group (where they were devoured!)
  • 1 welcome to a newcomer at yoga who looked like they might leave before trying it out
  • 2 hours staying after school to sort out an unloved classroom in secret whilst the Reception Team panicked about the outside area prior to an interim Ofsted Inspection.
  • taken 14 read, reread, loved and unwanted magazines to the Dentist and Doctors waiting rooms so other people can read and enjoy them.
  • 1 convincing a child she is not naturally incapable, nor bad and that I believe in her ability to try
  • 12 threepence worth of advice given re teaching ideas and interviews via twitter and the @twinkl stream.
  • 2 bags of shopping carried to help a neighbour from her car to her house
  • 3 pieces of litter picked up from the street
  • 1 loan of a book to a friend
  • 1 share bag of crisps taken to a BBQ
  • 1 thank you card made and given to hosts of BBQ
  • 1 bunch of flowers for a friend who gave me invaluable help with a a complicated morale zapping form
  • 1 hug for a stranger who said no one ever hugged her anymore when stepson demanded cuddles from husband and I.  She cried.

Acts I have Received:

  • texts from my family checking I am ok, filled with love
  • a ball of yarn from my niece (4yrs old – and insistent that I had it).
  • husband waking me at 2 am to tell me I am beautiful.
  • mother-in-law buying me a bunch of orange Gerberas as “they are smile inducing like you”
  • stepson getting cross with mother-in-law when alluding to me not being a parent, “I’m hers ain’t I?” (I’ve been with husband since stepson was 4months old, and I wasn’t a homewrecker by the way – she left at 2 months pregnant…).
  • best friend telling me to come over for coffee after work, making me a cappuccino and a fresh choux pastry with whipped cream to celebrate seeing each other on a Monday.
  • husband taking photos of my favourite flowers in the garden because “they make you do the jumpy clappy smiley dance.”  True.
  • a child at school calling me “the best teaching in my life” (aged 4).
  • stepson making me a latte and adopting my nickname of “Captain Coffee”
  • Hobbycraft picking me to review their exclusive WI yarn on this here blog!!

I think there have been many more given and received, these are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head – but wow – what a wonderful life we live!

So what random act of kindness can you do today? Do let me know here in the comments, or tweet me with the username @noturaveragezoe


my lent 2014

Last year I embarked upon a scheme.  I made it up myself.  I was pretty proud and it worked really well.

Last May/June I gave up:

  • crisps
  • sweets
  • biscuits
  • and bread

I went cold turkey and didn’t miss them at all.  I just stopped eating one thing, one week at a time.  Then added the next thing the next week thinking I already gave up … and that was no sweat!

I started this new system:

giving up lent image

because I had given up on myself so many times before.  It had to stop.

It turned out that this experiment has been so successful I have pretty much not had any of the above since then.


Unfortunately I seem to have made up for this with alternate food stuffs as my weight has not really changed down as I had hoped.

Lent is intended to be a time when people reconsider their personal values and faith.  A time when people rededicate themselves to their faith, or sacrifice in the same vein as Jesus did when he went into the wilderness.  It is my decision not to sacrifice, but to try and revitalise.  I am going to try to make my body something to be happy with and value in honour of this one life we get to live.

So for Lent I intend to give up the following week by week:

  1. eating in the car
  2. fizzy drinks
  3. pastry
  4. snacks
  5. ice cream
  6. fried foods (eating out/take aways)

So who’s going to join me? Let’s give up giving up!

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ideas for Lent

Lent starts next Wednesday (5th March) and whether you are religious or not, it’s a good time to stop, think, evaluate and restart something in your life, tweak something that you could make even better – or give up something that bugs you.

I don’t work well with giving up everything at once and being made to feel deprived.

I believe in love and generosity and self-improvement.

So here are some ideas:

  1. make the bed everyday
  2. restrict your processed food intake
  3. use a room fragrance
  4. give up negative thoughts
  5. draw the curtains everyday
  6. tell the people you value that you love them, and why
  7. bake
  8. look at the dates on your spices, jars and tins and check they are in date.
  9. give your baked goods away
  10. regularly take a small bag of donations to the charity shop
  11. stop saying the word “but” which devalues any positive statement you may make before it.
  12. cut some flowers/buy a bunch of flowers and give them to some neighbours you haven’t seen for a while
  13. volunteer to help someone/some cause out – even offering to help a friend take stuff to the tip, or walk their dog counts.
  14. put your favourite song on really loudly and dance your little tush off
  15. donate an hour of your wages to your favourite charity
  16. stop, think of 3 things you can be grateful for right now, then carry on.
  17. make time to do your favourite hobby everyday for a week.
  18. look at some old photos and if they make you smile, put them on display.
  19. try turning off the radio in the car – we are used to constant noise!
  20. go to bed at the same time every night (including weekends) and see if anything changes with your sleep patterns.
  21. organise a family board game session – no technology allowed.
  22. email someone you haven’t contacted in a while.
  23. call someone you usually email
  24. go au naturel and forgo makeup/hair products
  25. take a walk in the fresh air
  26. limit your technology time to 30mins-1hr a day
  27. cut out caffeine
  28. turn the TV off for an hour
  29. deep clean the showerhead
  30. if you self-assess your tax, or even if you don’t – collect all your receipts for the week and store them sensibly
  31. weed the garden
  32. light a candle
  33. clean the washing machine by putting it on a hot wash with just bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in the drawers
  34. check your bank balances and make sure you know to the penny where you are.
  35. stop drinking fizzy drinks
  36. smile – it will help you feel better from the outside and start to chip away at the feelings within
  37. have a cuddle with a loved one
  38. sit down for a cup of tea (decaff)* and really savour the taste
  39. avoid fried foods
  40. stop swearing

*insert own choice of drink here