Tuesday, 23 December 2008

And Festive shopping

I did quite a lot of my festive shopping in Wiveliscombe, a small town about four miles away. I know the town very well, having gone to school there.We also lived there for some years. There is a butchers, the award-winning Thorne's. A smart restaurant, No.10. The usual Post office, Bank, newsagent, hairdressers (2), chemist, etc. A new shop, bridal wear 'Aisle Altar Hymn'. (yes, really). And one of my favourite shops, The Carousel Pig. It has to be visited to be believed. Stuffed full of an amazing selection of things. Alison, the owner, always does a magical christmas window.
Look carefully at the photo...can you see the sleeping Fox Princess? (Click on picture to enlarge.)

Festive Baking and Knitting

So, where did most of December go? I seem to have been permanently at work or cleaning. Somewhere in between, I have managed to bake four Dundee cakes, to give as gifts, and knit. I made this neck warmer in aranweight Merino, for my Mother. The second one is in a graduated dye Merino. The pattern is called Ellen, from Pneumafox.blogspot.com (Thank you, celtic memory).Very easy, I made each one in a couple of evenings. Can't remember where I got the yarns, though. Stash. Buttons from Hayes Wools.
As you see, I finished the Red Beret for Jen. Again, it only took a couple of evenings. You can see the lovely Gothic Arches pattern more clearly in the second beret, which is in pure wool, colour crocus, from Coldharbour Mill. This one is for Sarah, a goddaughter. The pattern is Spring Beret by Natalie Larson (strandsofme.blogspot).
And the last hat is one I made up as I went along. It is for a dear three year old, who has taken a fancy to Lamb-like things. The yarn is 90% wool, and is an amazing £1 per 50gram ball. (special purchase at Hayes wools).It is called Loop the Loop.
60 stitches on 6mm needles, garter stitch for six rows. Change to 7mm needles, garter stitch to required length (appx six inches.) Cast off. Sew sides together (to make a tube) then sew across the top, with side seam at centre back.
Turn the bottom inch or so up, to make a cuff, if you wish.
I think I really have finished my festive knitting, now.

The Midwinter Festival

Today is Midwinter Day, usually called Yule. It is the exact opposite of Midsummer Day.These two important days are celebrated, along with Imbolc (first day of Spring), Beltane (May Day, first day of Summer), Lughnasad (Harvest, first day of Autumn), and Samhaine (first day of Winter, and the end, and beginning,of the year). These very old Feasts pre-date the solstice- and- equinox tradition, which is a southern European import. I have no proof, but suspect it came with the Romans, as so many things did.
The most potent symbol, from those far-off days, still takes a central role in our modern celebrations, even though the celebration itself has been subdued and altered.
The Golden Bough.
Whatever your beliefs, I wish you
A Peaceful Heart
A Joyful Home
A Safe and Healthy 2009

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Cold Cat

I have been on leave, this week, and what a beautiful week to take! It has been really cold, really frosty, and absolutely fabulous weather.
Babur says 'What are we doing out here? Let's go back in by the fire!'

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Cold and Frosty.

The min/max thermometer by the back door was registering minus five, this morning. The sky, last night, was sparkling with the cold. Moments like these, make all the rain we have had pale in significance. Best beloved and I raced around the garden, this morning,trying to capture the beauty in the cameras, before the frost melted in the sun.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Hit and miss baking.

It has really felt like winter, this week. We have had two good, hard, frosts. There has also been a wicked north wind blowing. That same wind has blown away the last of the leaves. It makes us really thankful that we have our wood stoves.

I started some baking, to be ready for the Festive season...only to find I did not have enough of certain dried fruits. And then slightly overcooked (burnt) the Dundee cake already in the oven!
(Still, B.B. is always happy to eat home made cake). So, I turned out the Larder, instead. It's amazing how, even if I keep it tidy(ish), and regularly check the contents, I still end up with three of something we use only occasionaly, and half a bag of things we use every day! So, now I have a list of dry goods needed in the larder. A big bake-in, next week-end, I think.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Birds and red Berets.

Well, the purple scarf is no more. I'm afraid I just got bored with it. But I do have some gifts to make for the coming Festive season.
Last year, I made a dear friend a scarf, in the cherry red brushed mohair from West Holwell Farm. This year, I am making a beret to match. The pattern is Spring Beret by Natalie Larson. It is a sort of gothic arches pattern. (I'm afraid it just does not photograph well. The bright colour and the halo of the yarn prevents proper focusing). This piece is rattling along beautifully. I cast on for it on Sunday evening, and did half an hour last night. I'm really enjoying it.

The winter visiting birds have been arriving in dribs and drabs. I noticed a few Fieldfares over the week-end. But this morning it really sounded like Winter. Several little flocks of Fieldfares flew up as I walked Poppy, and they chak-chaked their irritation quite loudly. Their voices are much harsher, more gutteral, than the Blackbirds and native Thrushes. They have been bullying their way into the Orchard, and creating territories, around trees which still hold apples.

We also have quite a large flock of Long-Tailed Tits. They come to the bird feeders when it gets colder. We have always attracted the occasional Coal Tit, but have noticed, lately, that they are coming more frequently, and in larger numbers. Joy unbounded on Saturday, when we counted ten either on the feeders, or in the bushes nearby. And last year's Pheasant is coming in to be fed again.

Thursday, 13 November 2008


There have been a lot of birthdays already this month. Stina and M. started us off, then mine, and today is Harry's. Best Beloved and I hosted a bonfire party at the week-end, and goodness, were we lucky with the weather! I started the bonfire mid afternoon, and we went straight out for the fireworks as soon as people arrived. We had a damping of rain, but as soon as we went in, the heavens really opened. To the extent, that it put the bonfire out!
Never mind, the company was great, and there was plenty of (traditional bonfire) food. The next birthday is little K's, in a couple of weeks.

One of my birthday presents was this wonderful sharkskin box (above). As you see, it is full of needlework tools. I have come to the conclusion that it is for Lace making. The knitting needles and crochet hooks are of such a small gauge that they couldn't be for anything else.(Could they?). And tiny sewing needles. I was thrilled to recieve it from Best Beloved's sister Deb, and her partner Jason.
Speaking of sisters, Nicky's twin Mel, has been home for a visit from Australia. A couple of weeks in which Mel and her husband tried to see all of their friends and family-one mad rush.
Nicky, Mel and I managed a day together, so we went down to Dulverton and had lunch at the fabulous Woods. That was such a treat. And then a little shopping.... Dulverton has such great shops for such small place. We were doing some Ch****m** stuff, I have to admit, but it was so that we give and recieve lovely things that don't have to be posted between G.B. and Aus.
I shall probably be going down to Dulverton again soon, for Starlight Sunday, which is on the 7th December this year. It is always charming.

Friday, 31 October 2008


I opened the Kitchen blind on Sunday, to find a very wet and bedraggled little bird eyeing me from the garden wall. A red-legged Partridge (Frenchman). It does seem to be a spot that draws sheltering birds. Somewhere, I have a picture of a Sparrowhawk, taken by Best Beloved. The Sparrowhawk was sitting on the white Fig, about eighteen inches to the right (of where the Partridge is sitting).
Today is Halloween. Samhain. The end of the Pagan year. New Years Eve, if you like. A good time to reflect on the years' events. Evaluate one's responses. Thank the Deity of choice for any blessings, and plan to make life.......better? kinder?more fulfilling? For my part, all of those things. Enjoy this last Fire-Festival of the present year and stay safe.
Bright blessings in the dark and cold.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

More colour

I spoke too soon -A few days of sun, and a couple of cold nights, and we have some wonderful colours in the landscape.
These are all trees in the garden. The leaf collage is made up of random finds from a walk with Poppy.
As you see, we have Internet. Unfortunately for us, Tiscali has left a marker in the system, which means we have no E-mail. Our new provider is trying to clear it, but if not, we may be without E-mail for two more weeks. Tiscali says it is not their problem! Thanks so much!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Some colour

There has not been much in the way of Autumn colour here, so far this year. The Spindle trees in the back hedge have been doing their best, though. As the other trees and bushes have been shedding their leaves, the striking colour combination has become more obvious.

We have been having trouble with our telephone and internet provider over the last month /six weeks. Tomorrow we change provider. There may or may not be hiccups.

Crafting and shopping

I had (ahem) to go to Coldharbour mill to collect some yarn that I had ordered-lovely uncoloured alpacca/blue faced leicester 2/3 ply. While I was there, I spotted some other goodies.

Some gloriously soft Merino (top), pure alpacca sock weight (middle) and some gently gleaming silk (bottom). 'Knitty' has a lovely pattern, called Flora, which I have made before in a tweed. I fancied making it up in something luxurious....

So I made it in these wonderful yarns, and below is the result. With a little added mohair for the stamens.

Having made this yummy thing, I needed somewhere to wear it. Where better than KTOG2 in Bovey Tracey? So, off I went with my knitting, and some fairy cakes. And it was great fun.
I finally met John Arbon, and had a pleasant chat. A quick word with Tutleymutley. I also met a very nice lady, who runs Devon Fine Fibres. I had to laugh, fifty odd miles to meet someone who is almost a neighbour of one of my oldest friends. I shall certainly be visiting there...I'm sure I will be needing (!) some local organic cashmere soon. Of course there were other things going on, too. After a cup of tea, and a few words with wyesue, I made my way back into Bovey Tracey. I couldn't go that far, without visiting the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.
Well, I was almost bowled over. The building is a fantastic space. The size and simplicity displays the craft works superbly. And these really are works of art and craft. I bought three books, and some small gifts. It will be a good place to return to, for Festive Season shopping. (I am doing my best to avoid the C word).

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Gloves for Winter Driving.

Our phone line has been out of order for the past while, which has meant no computer, either. But, hurrah, it's working again.
In the meantime, I made a pair of fingerless gloves. These are for me, and I made them from the Purl bee pattern that I used for Sarah's gloves.The pattern is called Dragon scale. (well, what else would I wear?). They are lovely for driving in, as I don't like full gloves, which seem to slip on the steering wheel. Winter draws on.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Season of Mist

Well, here we are again, at the Autumn Equinox. Light and dark/Day and night in balance. Now we start the gentle slide into Winter. Not all bad, of course. Cold weather comfort food. Knitting by the fire. Misty mornings.Bonfires.
And Dahlias. Mad shapes, and clashing colours. Wonderful, just right for now.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Real Life

The knit-picks needles sat unmolested for a week, while I finished other projects. Then I cast on for a lace scarf, the idea for which has been fermenting in the back of my mind for a little while. Well, I can see why people are so enthusiastic about these needles! The stitches just slip along, like using metal pins, but warmer, and lighter. I think I'm in love.

Honey for sale. As I said before, not a big harvest, but good to have been able to run a few jars this weekend.

The tomatoes are coming to an end. Possibly one or two pickings left.The veg garden has not been a huge success this year, but the tomatoes have been wonderful. I know everyone says it, but the flavour and scent of the home-grown article is beyond compare!
Are these just Hobbies? I feel that this is the real life we work to support.


We took a day off on Saturday.I packed a picnic, and Poppy, and off we went to Exmoor. We wandered as the mood took us, starting at Dulverton. Lunch was taken above Winsford, looking towards Dunkery Beacon. The heather is starting to go over, but still scents the air quite strongly, and we saw lots of Bumble bees working it keenly. It was sunny and bright, but the wind was keen. Even so, wonderful to be out, after all the rain.

Turning for home, we came down Worthy Toll road. This is a truly magical place, if you can find it. The beautiful stream cascades down the steep hill, alongside the road, skipping and tumbling over the rocks and stones, now and then making little pools. It is overhung by ferns, and the banks are covered in mosses and lichens. There is an almost overwhelming sense of peace and stillness.
Exmoor is my favourite place, and I try to visit as often as I can. I am lucky that Best Beloved loves it as much as I do.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Made with love

At long last, I have finished the waistcoat I was making for my sister,Nicola.It was to be a birthday present, last February. Nicky chose the pattern, so I had to convert a seventies machine knit pattern to hand knit. All went beautifully, until I came to the borders.It didn't make any sense. And I went off knitting big time. Anyway, a few small projects (baby hats,etc.),got me going again. So here it is....

The yarn is 70% mohair/30%lambswool. Unbrushed. It's from a local Farm, the owners have the yarn spun at a local mill, and sell it themselves. Good to support local enterprise, particularly when the product is SO gorgeous.

And again.....Harvest

On Sunday, we welcomed a few friends around, to pick Apples. The capital is because apples are a major problem for us at the moment.
When we came to this house ( nearly eleven years ago ),there were dozens of apples trees. Not an Orchard, just random rows of them. All planted far too close together. I have to admit cutting down and uprooting nearly a hundred. However, what I did was take out the damaged,diseased and spindly trees. They had all been planted at about eighteen inch spacings. Mad! The ones that are left are more like ten to twelve feet apart.They have shown their appreciation by growing to between twelve and fifteen feet high , and producing masses of blossom and fruit.Every year.

We also (naively) planted a proper Orchard. Which is now coming into production. With the bees in the Orchard, we have an embarrasment of fruit. It usually starts towards the end of August and goes on until the Russets are ready,about November. (depends on the weather).
So, we were delighted when Ness, Lisa and K., Jacquie, and Andi were able to come over. Lots of bags of apples were picked and stowed in cars. Discussions about the names of varieties. Watching of Butterflies landing on some of the over-ripe fruit. And some eating of fruit.
Then indoors to drink tea and eat cake. (And a tiny bit of knitting!)
I love it when friends visit.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Harvest - continued.

We did the Honey harvest yesterday. It is quite a long winded affair, as we have to do it in the Kitchen. So I have to do an especially careful and thorough clean before we start, then a somewhat sticky clear up afterwards.
This year, as last year, has not been good. The weather has prevented the Bees foraging, and there has not been as much blossom for them to visit ,anyway, for the same reason. We did get a harvest, though. Other Beekeepers haven't been so lucky.
As I cut the cappings off each frame, I notice variations in colour.This is a particularly clear example of how the Bees fill each cell before sealing it. There were obviously two strong but distinct nectar flows going on when this frame was filled. Isn't it beautiful?

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Tobys' kimono

I have just realised, that with all the excitement of the Ravelympics, and working on the House, I did not show the finished kimono which I made for Bella's new boy,Toby.
It is from 'Natural knits for Babies and Mums' by Louisa Harding. I substituted Jeager matchmaker for the recommended yarn, as I like working with it, and it will be an Autumn/Winter garment. It was very easy, and knitted up quickly. Buttons from Hayes wools,Taunton,as was the Yarn.

On Leave,but no Holiday

Best beloved has been on leave for a week, and has been instaling a solar hot water system.It was so exciting to hear the pump going, and know that it would be making an impact on the electricity bill.
So this week, I am on leave too. We have had a flurry of finishing off small projects, like hanging blinds in the bedroom,and the study. Yesterday, we went to Bristol Ikea. Not a bundle of laughs, but we bought another blind for my sewing room (sounds grand, but it is also the spare bedroom), some lovely off-white linen curtains which I will re-make as curtains for our bedroom,and various teatowels and the like in Scandinavian blue and white. Yes, blue and white in the Kitchen again.
The fun bit of the Ikea trip -We went via Get Knitted. B.B. was very good,had a wander around,then sat and read various magazines, while I drifted around the shop in a daze. It is as amazing as I had heard.Quite a large shop floor for a Yarn shop. Well laid out.The staff were very helpful indeed, in a calm,unshowy way. And patient. What did I buy? Only a few little things....All five sizes of cable, and a Knit Picks Harmony 4mm and 5mm tips, and a 4mm tips in the metal. Some buttons for Nicky's waitcoat. A sweet pattern I will make up as a present for someone special. And a few things to go in my Gifts box, against the coming of the giving season.
And I managed to complete a knitted blanket on the way home.(B.b. was driving!).
Poppy says 'I thought Holidays were meant to be Fun.You two are boring.'

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

So much has been going on, that we haven't had time for the computer. In the last two weeks, I have emptied out two bedrooms (the smallest and the largest), stripped wallpaper, and completely decorated both rooms. Today, the carpet fitters came and laid new carpet in both rooms. I cannot believe it is our house! I'm so pleased with it all. We are finally working our way towards finishing the renovations.
And the Ravelympics are in full swing. I have managed to complete my races.As I was so distracted with the house, I stuck with small goals.

I entered several things in the Hat Dash-the first was a pattern by Elizabeth Zimmerman; A spiral hat, made in Mirasol sulka. A beautiful yarn...merino, Alpaca and silk.

And I entered five hats for Premature babies, which will go to the local hospital. No formal patterns for these, and I used oddments from my hoard. So now I must concentrate on finishing a couple of projects which have been languishing in my basket for a (long)while!

Friday, 1 August 2008


Dave at Hayes wools is having a sale at the moment......I went in to pick up any knitted squares for Oxfam that may have been left there, and got side-tracked.
Today is Lughnasa. In the Pagan calendar, it is the celebration of the start of Harvest. It is also the begining of Autumn.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

First of the Harvest

There has been a lot of Harvesting going on over the last two weeks.Tractors, pulling trailers of tall, swaying, loads of straw, creep along the roads.The Barley is all in store.The Wheat is within a day or two of ripeness. I was delighted to see this picturesque scene on my way home from work on friday. The field is less than two miles from home, so I rushed back with my camera. Not sure when I will see the like again.

And here is my secret project. A New Arrival gift for Little K., Ness and Lisa's little one. I have already started a knitted kimono cardi, for Toby, another new arrival.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Open Day

At last, the first Sweet Peas of Summer! I just love them, and have to grow some every year. Unfortunately, I had trouble germinating them this year. After the third attempt, I gave up, and just bought random pots of seedlings where I could. So, instead of four carefully considered colours, a kalaidoscope of colour. Nevertheless, a joy.
And a teaser of what is on my needles.

I went to the Coldharbour Mill Open Day, on Saturday, and met some friends from Close Knit there.Jacquie, and Ness with her little one, K. We had a lovely time pottering around, looking at the Exhibitions and watching the demonstrations. One lady was sitting and using a sock knitting machine. Fascinating! I have never seen one before.We had lunch (very good Restaurant!) And spent ages looking at these lovely Alpaca. Four boys, all about fourteen months old. The second from the left is the leader of this group, apparently, and he spent all the time we were there, making the sweetest, gentle cooing noise. I had to be dragged away, to look at the shop. Naturally, we spent ages looking at the wonderful Yarns, and stroking them. Some purchases were made. (That is all I will say on that subject).

Monday, 7 July 2008

Wool Lust

I had to go food shopping on Saturday,so on the way to Tiverton, we made a little (?) detour, and went to Coldharbour Mill. Well, they've moved the shop around again. The lovely Coldharbour spun wool, still there. The squishy Alpaca, still there. All the hand-made things. Yes, still there. And so many additions! Lots of books. At least three times as many as before. All crafts covered. Oh, but you should see the new yarns....... Silks, thin, thick, nubbly. Hand-spun Alpaca, Alpaca and Blue Faced Leicester. And lots else, besides.

Well, I admired and stroked them all. What did I buy? A 50g skein of Laceweight Alpaca/Blue Faced Leicester. I'm now struggling NOT to start a lace scarf.
While I was there ,I noticed a poster advertising
Sounds good, does it not?

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Vital Teapot

Disaster! Well, a minor disaster. We have had a sweet Quantock Pottery teapot for years...the kind that looks as though it has fallen from the pages of 'Alice in wonderland'. And the spout got chipped! So, of course, it didn't pour properly. Just leaked everywhere. Now, that IS a disaster for dedicated Tea-drinkers. So, a hunt for a replacement. Wouldn't you think that pouring without spilling would be a main requirement of a Teapot? The aim being in the name, and all that? Apparently I expect too much. I bought several, each of which, in it's turn, went back. Then, I decided that you get what you pay for. And we do use the Teapot at least half-a-dozen times a day. So I paid - quite a lot more. But, ooooohh! Look at this....

Beautiful, yes? We love it. It's a smile-bringer.
A colleague and friend, B, has finally, and safely, delivered her baby.An 8lb 8oz boy. Great excitement at the office. I came across a really sweet, but also trendy, babies cardigan pattern last week. And some funky wool, so I think the knitting drought may be over. I do hope so.
Walking Poppy last night, I heard some odd whistly snuffling in the long grass alongside the stream. (probably 11.30 ish).This morning, TWO Otter spraints on the big boulder in the waterfall. It's only three weeks since the last lot of marking, so I'm hopeful that a new otter/family has moved into the territory.

Monday, 23 June 2008


Today is Midsummer day. The 24 th of June. The middle of Summer. Last saturday was the 21st, which was the Solstice. The longest day. People , in general, have forgotten that these are two seperate,although related, celebrations.

(Sorry,rant coming). I have heard a lot of twaddle spoken about the solstice/first day of summer/first day of spring, and seasons in general lately. Most notably on the Chris Evans Radio two show. It seems to me, that there are a great many people who live urban lifestyles, who do not have the faintest clue about Nature and her rhythms. They then have the temerity to try and tell Nature, and those who do listen to her, when the seasons may fall ! So, for those who may be interested, a short resume of approximate dates:

The end and beginning of the year, Samhaine (halloween) 31st October [this is also the start of winter].
Winter Solstice (longest night) 21st or 22nd December .

Yule/Midwinter 23rd December.
Imbolc. First day of spring. 1st or 2nd February .
Vernal (spring)Equinox. Balance. The hours of light and dark are equal. 21st or 22nd March.
Beltane. First day of summer. 1st of May. A most important festival.
Summer Solstice ( longest day) 21st or 22nd June.
Midsummer Day 24th June.
Lughnasad.First day of autumn. Celebration of the first harvests. 1st or 2nd of August.
Autumn Equinox. Balance of light again. 22nd or 23rd of September.
Back to Samhain.
I say approximate,because each year is slightly different, and also because Human calanders are out of sync with the Earth and the stars.
This was meant to be a loving note about the beauty of Nature at Midsummer. Well, nature is still beautiful, and it is still Midsummer. I leave you with a photo of Rosa 'surprise', and a hope that your Midsummer is warm, happy, and joyful. Blessed be.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I love Roses. Not the stiff,angular Hybrid Tea types, or the awkward Floribundas. The sort I adore are the billowing,voluptuous old fashioned roses. Lush, silken petals, sending clouds of intoxicating perfume into the air.
I had always been vaguely aware of different sorts of roses, but in 1986, I went to the R.H.S. Chelsea Flower Show. In the Main Pavillion, I came face to face (as it were) with Peter Beales wonderful display of scented, old fashioned roses. But you couldn't buy at Chelsea (from the display stands). However, later that year, I met the Peter Beales stand again at the Bath and West Show. So, I bought a Souvenir de la Malmaison Rose, and a Baroness Rotheschild. That was it - I was hooked!
^ This Rose is Stanwell Perpetual. It's not overly popular,because the leaves have odd little marks and spots,as though it has black spot.But it dosn't. A super short climber, with a lovely,slightly sharp scent.

<- Gertrude Jekyll. A beautiful David Austin rose. She looks authentic, smells fabulous, and is fairly problem free.

<- Another David Austin-Eglantyne. Just wonderful. I have two in my garden.

<- And here is Isphahan. Unfortunately, when I bought this, I forgot to check whether it was remontant. It's not. So we get one amazing display in June,and that's it. Most of my Roses are repeat flowering. I think I have fourteen different roses in the garden. Only Isphahan, and Pauls Himalayan Musk, are once-only bloomers.
With all of these roses in bloom, along with three different Honeysuckles, three different varieties of Philadelphus (mock orange) and a drift of white sweet rocket, it's like walking in a bowl of pot pourri. Bliss....