Thursday, 31 December 2009

The one that got away...

Unfinished work.... I tried to knit one thing too many....

..but it will be ready for her birthday.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Seasonal things

A little seasonal knitting has been going on...

I had promised Christina some squares for a blanket. This first one, Green Trees, was from a pattern that she had.
This is Fafnir,an Elsebeth Lavold pattern. Both are in the remnants of my Jaeger doubleknit superwash Merino stash. 4.5 mm needles.
A new recipe for ginger cake- Ginger Drizzle Cake. Use a standard sponge recipe, and add a tablespoon of ginger syrup (from the crystalised ginger jar)and a teaspoon of ground ginger to the mixture. Take it from the oven, and prick all over with a skewer. Drizzle with a syrup made from 4 tablespoons of icing sugar, the juice of half a lemon, and a tablespoon of ginger syrup. (It should be thin enough to run, but slowly). Leave in the tin until the cake is cool, and the topping is set.
We have had very seasonal weather today. Ice, hoare frost and a little soft hail. Best Beloved and I both went out and spent a happy hour taking photos in the frost.Poppy and Babur stayed indoors by the fire.
B.B. thinks that this is a better photo than the one I posted as a Yule card. The sentiment holds.

Seasons Greetings

I wish you all the Blessings of Midwinter Day. Have a safe and joyful Yule.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


My computer will not upload photos at the moment. (Grrr). Will be back as soon as possible.

Sunday, 22 November 2009


More cake.This is another Nigel Slater recipe, from the Observer.

It is Pear and Maple Syrup cake. The idea is that you caremelise the pears, making a fair amount of sauce, and add it to the cake mixture.

I didn't get it quite right. I don't think I cooked the first bit fast (hot) enough. It tasted pretty good, though. Not much left.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Knitting Quest

The last of the knitting-for-co-workers fest. This very easy project was knitted from Louisa Harding's 'Natural Knits for Babies and Mums' book. The yarn is Stylecraft Pure Wool D.K.
The dear little buttons are from Fine Fabrics in Taunton- Couldn't resist 'em!
It was my birthday recently, and I was given some really lovely things. A wonderful book on Otters, which is a reprint of an old (victorian) classic from Best Beloved. A subscription to 'Interweave Knits' from sister Nicky and R.( Oh, Joy, tra-la). An antique crystal vase from lovely S-I-L Deb. And from my dear friend Jacqui....
This fabulous scarf. Rowan silk. I wore it straight away -it is warm, cosy .....elegant. She gets my taste spot on, every time. And she is such a precise knitter. Look at her projects on
From time to time, various swaps take place at Close Knit,(the group I belong to). The result of one of these swaps, found a bag of magenta Mohair d.k. yarn, clutched in my hot and sweaty hand. So, at the moment, I am trying to work out a pattern for a v-neck sweater, with no ribbing. It is a very bright colour for me! Should go well with emerald green cords(!!)
Some months ago, Dave at Hayes Wools showed me a magazine that I had not come across before, called Verena. I tried all sorts of places to track it down, to no avail. I spoke to Geoff, of Sue's News in Taunton, setting him off (inadvertently) on a Quest. Three months later, he has spoken to every magazine wholesaler in England, written to Germany, France and the U.S.A., and been let down twice. He has left me updates on my phone every couple of weeks, and has been incredibly helpful. AND ....this morning, a copy of Verena was left in my post box! I am really impressed. So, if you live in the Taunton area, Sue's News in Crown Walk has another copy of Verena on the shelves, and we may be looking for Interweave Knits next!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Oh, some Deer.

I was on my way home from a walk with Poppy, late yesterday afternoon, when I spotted these Roe deer. A Buck, two Does and a younger deer, obviously one of this years' fawns. They were just up the hill from my garden.(Aprox.200 yards from the house).They stayed, quietly browsing, for about an hour and a half. I took about forty photos. Then a panicking pheasant startled them, and they were gone - quicker than a blink.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Winter now...

Today certainly is the first day of winter.Yesterdays' lovely autumn mists and warm sun gave way, overnight, to lashing rain and fierce cold winds. Luckily, I picked a basketful of sloes before the wind could take them. They are fabulous in Sloe Gin. I don't want to make any this year, but had promised some to a dear friend, so that she could.

The finished cardigan for Rachel's baby girl.The pattern is from Louisa Harding, the yarn is the last of my stash of Jaeger superwash double knitting pure wool. According to Dave at Hayes Wools, Jaeger have discontinued it. Sad.
Have a look at the buttons - Mrs Tiggywinkle. Aren't they sweet?
And I have started a stripy sweater for Sarah's imminent arrival. Another Louisa Harding pattern. Can't remember the yarn. I will include it with the next picture.

Saturday, 31 October 2009


Samhain is, basically, New Years' Eve for Pagan folk. A time for remembering and reflecting. For making resolutions, clearing out old things and out-worn ways of being. It is also a time for a party. Best Beloved and I are having a huge bonfire, and eating a (traditional Pagan ) meal of sausages and baked potatoes, followed by hazelnut biscuits.

Happy New Year!

Friday, 30 October 2009


I really enjoy baking, and have tried a few new things lately.
Above is a photo of the 'tweaked' recipe, Pear and Almond Tart. Again, home grown pears.

Nigel Slater is one of my favourite cookery writers, alongside Elizabeth David, and Madhur Jaffrey. These Hazelnut Biscuits are his recipe, and they have been a real hit. They have become an instant favourite here at ''Dragons' Wood''.

Another of Nigel's new recipes, is his Mushroom Pasties. I did add a small amount of dried ceps (reconstituted )to the mushroom mix, but that is just me fiddling. They were quick and easy to make, no difficult ingredients, and disappeared off the plates in the clattering of a spoon, (or the squeezing of a lemon, to quote Mrs David), so I'm afraid there are no pictures.

These recipes are from the Observer magazine.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

A bit of 'Magic'

On Saturday, Karen and I met Jacqui in Glastonbury. We were going to the Faery Fayre. None of us knew what to expect, never having been before. There were the most amazing stands - Art, Jewelery, trinkets, Wings, Clothes.
I did not find a card, or a label for this stand, but these little Goblins were so beautifully made.I half-expected them to move.
The wings I mentioned were gorgeous, but I was so carried away with looking at them, that I forgot to take any pictures. They are by Twinkle (

This necklace, from the Punkfaery ( was too beautiful to resist.
There was also a lovely young woman doing Faery-style make up. Lots of people were dressed up for the occasion. Quite wonderful.
To see adverts for these sorts of Fayre, and also the Balls which follow them , see Fae Magazine(
After that, we went to Star Child, (sublime)and bought incense, and oils, and candles. A quick look in a few shops, and then a visit to Gothic Image (bookshop), before leaving for home. Sadly, Gwydion McPagans' Yule to Yule 2010 edition of his calender is not available yet.
I can feel a Fairy Knitting Tea Party coming on!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Surprise Harvest!

Some years ago, when we first came here, I planted some Pear trees. Only one survived. (The ground is very damp). That one tree was slow to fruit. This year, it has been laden, but the fruit did not seem very nice. Today, I thought 'one more chance', and tried a mouthful. Fabulous! So I picked as many as I could reach. It is either 'Barone de Mello' or 'Beurre Hardy'.
I also thought I would pick any Damsons I could find, on our rather scrawny tree. As you see, I picked a few. I will have to pick again over the week-end, as there are lots hiding , tucked up tight under the leaves.

At the same time, I had a look at a self-sown curcurbit plant in the corner of the vegetable garden... And found lots of these little Squashes! I picked those which are of a useable size, and have left twice as many on the plant.
Three lovely of Nature!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009


Well, here we are again at the Autumn Equinox. Light and dark in balance, a little more than halfway through Autumn. As you see from the picture below, our trees and shrubs which bear berries or fruit have done very well. A good feast for the wildlife.

My sister, Nicky, has a very prolific Damson tree. We have had lots of crumbles, and the freezer has lots of little bags of damson pulp sitting in its' frozen depths, ready for winter puddings. These particular apples are Grenadier, an early cooker.
I also took the opportunity to try out a recipe for pear and almond tart. I have never made one before, but having the first pears from my own tree, I had to have a go. It wasn't perfect, but not too bad for a first attempt.
I also tried a new recipe for chelsea buns, as it was Close Knit. The classic Elizabeth David recipe, with ground Cardamom and Lemon zest, instead of dried fruit and cinnamon. Then made much smaller than usual, and finally, drizzled with lemon icing.
I have spent my spare (!) time over the last three months making a sleeveless sweater. It was for a friend who taught a session of Knitters Yoga to the Close Knit members, as a thank-you. Jacqui and I found some glorious yarn, Mirasol miski, in a deep Teal, at Hayes Wools. The pattern was from Yarn Forward magazine. The yarn was a joy to work, and is utterly fabulous made up.
The pattern, however, was an utter disaster! I have been knitting for over thirty-five years, and have never come across such a badly written pattern before. I checked the magazine's later issues for errata, but no hope.What needles to use where? Great chunks of information missing, and I had to completely work out a cable that would fit at the neck, because the instructions given just did not work. Yarn forward may boast that all of their patterns are new, but it might be a good idea to have them test knitted too! This is the second time I have made an item from that particular magazine, where the pattern did not work. It is also the last. I shall not buy it again.
You can see from this detail that the neck is quite different from the pattern.
On a happier note, several of the younger women at work are due to have babies before long. so, goody, a chance for some baby knitting. I have started a Louisa Harding kimono for a little girl, and have my eye on a stripy Debbie Bliss for a little boy, with maybe a random blanket for the unknown third. Oh, the joys of the possibilities!

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Honey Harvest

I mentioned that we were due to start the Honey harvest. Well, we did start..and the electric spinner broke down. Oh, well, at least we still had the old hand spinner. So on we went - and then we found that a lot of the honey had already set in the comb. We knew that it was not oilseed rape honey, as the bees were not bringing it in, and this was also in later supers. So we think it must be Clover honey. Clover makes gorgeous honey, but it meant that the harvest went on into the following week-end. We can't spin off honey that has set, so we had to clear up one set of equiptment, then get out,and clean and prepare another lot.
This is set honey, cut from the frame, ready to be extracted.
The main problem was that it ran into Fibrefest weekend! I finally left home, and got to Coldharbour Mill at 3 pm on Sunday. Not ideal. I did manage to get around and see everything, though. I met Jowatso, who set up and ran U.K. Ravelry Day, and hope to see her again.
There was an amazing display of fibres. Actually, I was boggled. So many lovely things. Getting there so late, did mean that many things had sold out. Which was great for the stall holders, and probably just as well for my bank balance. I did buy some wonderful stuff, though.

The lovely rusty brown alpaca is
from Alandale Alpacas. Two 25 gram skeins of hand spun, from an alpaca called Fiona.
The verdigris green is merino and silk. It comes in 100 gram skein, and is double knitting weight. This is for a cardigan.
The red is the same, but I only got one skein, probably for a scarf. I bought them from Fyberspates.

These gorgeous Vintage buttons were on the Wheeldale Woolcrafts stand. I don't think I would have seen them, if I had been there when it was busy.

Quite a busy couple of weekends. Now we are preparing the bees for Winter. The supers are clean, and we have put feeders on all of the hives. Now feeding comences. We have to make sure they have sufficient stores to last the winter.

And at last it is cool enough to knit! I have a sleeveless pullover that I have been working on, which is a 'thank-you ' present from the knitting group I belong to, 'Close Knit', to Karen, who taught us Knitters Yoga. Just a few inches left, and then the making up. It has a fancy cable neck border. I am looking forward to seeing it finished.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Sunny week-end

It was 'Close Knit' on Friday....pleasant (warm!) enough for us to leave the door open for part of the evening. I made Lemon Drizzle cake, N. made lovely lemon cup cakes, Caro brought fruit cake. Delicious!
I seem to be taking forever to make a simple vest/tank for a friend, but managed nearly six inches of stocking stitch, while chatting with my knitting family.
Saturday morning was Beekeeping time. We did our usual health/Queen check, and are pleased that six of our eight remaining hives are Queen-right. One has a newly hatched Queen, and the final hive has an almost-ripe Queen cell. Once sure of the conditions in the hives, we put clearer-boards on under the supers. This clears the bees from the honey boxes, so that we can remove the honey.The hives are left for twenty four hours or so, for the bees to go down into the brood nest. So, on Sunday evening, we took the supers (honey boxes) off the hives. We hope to do the honey harvest next week-end.
Best Beloved and I went to the Taunton Flower Show on Saturday afternoon. We had a good look at all the stalls, and visited the Marquees. Had ice-cream, admired crafts.Then we went to the Taunton Beekeepers tent, to see the Honey Show. The observation hive is always fascinating. There were several children watching the goings-on in there with rapt attention. The Queen was not only marked, but had a number on her thorax! The numbers were about the size of the head on a dressmaking pin.
Looking around at all the classes, I saw this dramatically painted W.B.C.hive, which was in a decorative items class. It was painted and entered by Polly Fox-Strangways.

This was the view from my bedroom window on Sunday. It was a field of Barley. Cut and carried Saturday, baled Sunday, stacked by evening, it was a clear field by the time I got home from work today.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Purple patch

It was Best Beloved's birthday, recently, so some 'Thank you' cards were needed. Easy and effective...and quick. Even though the weather has not been marvelous, knitting just had not held its' usual compulsion. These little pieces did the trick.

This delicate little Clematis is a vitticella, 'Little Nell'. It grows through a big old Wisteria, and the flowering period follows that of its' host. The colours are similar, so we get a purple patch of about six or seven weeks.
I had hoped to add a picture of a dish of Whortleberries, but after we had been picking about an hour, the heavens opened. The rain was so heavy, and the cloud so low, that we could not see very far. So, back to the car, with a small companion having to jump in every puddle. Soaked? Of course. But it was such fun! Exmoor in Summer.
Now there's a lovely place, Summer or not. I was in need of a little solitude, and my instinct is always to go for a walk. This picture was taken in a deep hidden combe, on a friend's farm. There are still hedges of towering Beech trees, some of which look like something in an Arthur Rackham illustration. They have such presence. The atmosphere of peace and stillness is like that of an ancient Cathedral.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Sweet Peas

The first bunch of Sweet Peas from the garden this summer. They filled the kitchen with their glorious scent. Sad that they don't last long, but at least they keep flowering, so I can keep replacing them.
I went over to Wiveliscombe, to have my hair cut, earlier this week. While I was there, I had a quick look in the charity shop. I found all these books, and paid less than £10. I could not believe my luck (although it may have something to do with always being on the look-out).
Debbie Bliss, Sheila McGregor, Barbara Walker, and best of all, Elizabeth Zimmermann.

It is Best Beloveds' birthday today.We were off for the day, and taking a picnic, so cake was called for. This is a new recipe to me. Sponge, containing some ground almonds, with fresh nectarine chopped, then layered in. It disappeared fairly quickly.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

I'm Back!

Well, apologies for the hiatus. We started the season with six Hives /colonies of Bees.We have been fortunate that they have been doing well. Rather too well. By the end of June, we had fourteen colonies, and they were taking most of a day to attend to. Now we are back down to eight, by selling three whole colonies, and two nuclei. One lot was combined with another, as it had become Queenless, and we were unable to re-Queen it. We hope to sell one more nucleus before Autumn. (And we have some time back).
We have a small colony of these pretty native Orchids, down in the woodland. Not sure which, yet. While they were flowering, I went down each morning just to gaze at them. It put a smile on my face .
I had an urgent need to make a little something for my Sister-In Law, Deb. They were about to visit. So what does a knitter do? She knits. Mirasol miski. Baby Llama. My lovely standby 'Ellen'.This must be my fourth version.

A summer posy, from my garden. Roses (mixed), stocks, lavender.

And this is a synthetic swallows nest, hung in the front porch.It has never been used by Swallows, sadly, but used as a winter roost by various small birds. But. This summer, it has been taken over by a Wren.It is stuffed full of all sorts of leaves and spiders webs. So the porch is out of bounds to all callers at present. We occasionaly see a small brown clockwork blur, shooting in or out. We await developments.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Evening Wear

My sister, Nicky, has to attend a Gala Dinner and Dance. It is in aid of a Cancer Charity, which she is very involved in. We had looked for a shrug which was simple, smart, elegant. Then we looked for a pattern, so that I could make one, which is simple, smart, elegant. Eventually, I bought some very nice Merino 4-ply wool, from Hayes wool shop in Taunton. At the fifth attempt, I got the sleeves to fit properly.

Back view.
Front view.
Detail.(this goes all the way around).

Nick ready to go.
The photos do not show the softness of the yarn, or the lovely drape. Neither do they show the simple elegance of her dress.
The pattern is all my own work.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Lucky Girl!

I came down to breakfast on Sunday, to find Best Beloved had bought these Lily-of-the-Valley at the same time as the newspapers. The scent was wonderful - he knows I love them. I read somewhere, that it used to be traditional to give posies of these lovely flowers on Mayday, in France. I don't know if it is true, but what a super idea.
A quick visit to Coldharbour Mill, as I needed some more wool to make another cat bed. I have been asked for the pattern by several people, so will have to make another, in order to remember properly how to do it. Or rather, the stitch numbers. While I was there, I had a quick look around...and found this....

..Beautiful pure u.k.Alpaca , aran weight, natural colour, 100 gram skeins. Louisa said that they were 'specials'. John may have done them as it is Shows season. Well, what is a girl to do, when faced with yarn in her favourite fibre and colour? Before you ask, nine skeins. Should be enough for a sweater, or short cardi.
Then Monday was Milveton May Fair. It is a street fair, lots of local stalls, lots of plants, a Food Hall (in the car park!) and some street entertainers. We (B.B. and I) bought plants, and bread, and flowers. We stopped to look at a bric-a-brac stall. (Last June 10th, I wrote about a set of Masons' Blue Denmark china which I found and bought in a local charity shop). There, on the floor, was a Masons' Blue Denmark Meat Platter.What price was the stallholder asking? £1.50! I had to ask again, as I thought I had mis-heard. Yes, of course we bought it. Bargain!!
I hope you had an equally pleasant Bank holiday.