Monday, 30 December 2013

Sheep, not wool.

 The land around us is mainly given over to arable production. When we first moved here, the land behind us was part of a dairy farm. By the following summer, however, the Friesian cows had departed, and the fields were sown with wheat. The land in front of us was used for grazing sheep, but five years on, that, too, had become arable in common with the rest of that holding, which stretched around to one side of us. On the remaining side was part of a farm which ran as a dairy and bred lovely pedigree Dairy Shorthorn cows....gentle red-and-white spotted beasts, a favourite in old-fashioned story books. Happily, they are still there, although in reduced numbers, and the fields directly adjacent to us are mainly used for fodder crops.

So, I was delighted to awake this morning, to the sound of sheep. I knew that they were coming, but not when. The field opposite is now alive with the woolly beasts. The barley that had been in there last summer, was oversown with fodder beet. It is a quick-growing crop, and it meant that this flock of store sheep could overwintered on a good food source. I know that they will only be here for a matter of weeks, but they will make me smile while they are here.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Another shawl

Despite having a number of UFO's (Un Finished Objects), ( see Proliferation, 2nd November) I had to start on a new shawl. This is Abrazo , by Susanna Ic. Made in an alpaca/silk mix from Fleecewitch.  It is for my Sister-In-Law, Deb, for her birthday,
 It really is a lovely pattern, and the yarn is gorgeous. The two together made a very pleasing project.
 I slightly adapted the last few rows of the pattern, adding the eyelet and cast-off from another Susanna pattern, Summer Blooms.
 The border does not have such deep scallop as some of Susanna's patterns, which will suit Deb better. She is not so keen on the Goth as I am.
 I am pleased with the result. The only drawback, is that the little beads do not show up. Perhaps the colour match was too accurate.
I finally finished our Yule Cake on Friday. We both like rich fruit cake. We both like marzipan. But we don't like icing. So ...A marzipan decorated fruit cake !

Monday, 23 December 2013


Trips to Dulverton are either very quick and brief visits, or a more leisurely affair, but for someone else's benefit. Friday saw me in Dulverton again, but collecting things which had been ordered. It was a chance to look around by myself, and enjoy it.
A small shop, tucked in the corner next to the Post Office, has caught my eye on several occasions, so I took the chance to have a peep. Nimble Fingers is a Haberdashery, and needlework supplies shop. It is quite small, but crammed with an array of useful things. I spent a happy while, looking around and chatting to the owner.
There is a selection of yarns and knitting patterns, including some by John Arbon. A small but thoughtful selection of Excelana, and some of the Organic Merino range. I was unable to resist a skein of the natural white, aran weight, organic Merino.
Spotted on the stand of knitting needles, etc, was this Tunisian Crochet needle. I have never seen one before, and quite fancied trying it. The proprietor, Mr. Martin, assures me that he will always do his best to find tools and sundries for his customers.
This shop must be a god-send to local needleworkers of all sorts. It is also quite charming.

( Apologies for the lack of photos...I keep forgetting my camera just lately).

Sunday, 22 December 2013


So here we are at Midwinter. Most cultures have some sort of tradition, to celebrate their beliefs and bolster themselves against the dark experienced in the depths of Winter. Most have some element of light, to remind themselves that light will return. All have traditional foods.

Whatever your beliefs, I wish you harmony in your home and family, peace in your heart, and Joy in the season.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


On one of my little forays around Ravelry, I came across a little reference to the Knitsonik  podcast.  It is written and performed by Felix ( Dr. Felicity Ford). Felix is one of the three founders of Wovember,  and is also a knitter, spinner, designer, and sound specialist. All of these things, and more, come together in a delightfully whimsical fashion in this podcast.
 I was working on a knitting project which had a deadline, so sat and knitted, with Knitsonik  as company. It was utterly charming. I am looking forward to the next episode.

Monday, 16 December 2013


 On Saturday evening, Best Beloved and I attended a Traditions Evening, at the home of friends. These events have become a popular addition to the social round, in our extended group of friends. Different people take turns in showing how to do a Yule-related craft. I elected to demonstrate how to make a willow wreath, and then help folk make one. Gathering the 'ingredients' was an excuse for bringing home all sorts of greenery in the preceding week.
 I was surprised, and delighted, at the number of guests who had a go. On the whole, the children were much quicker at understanding the 'how to', than the adults.  Tilly ( above) decided hers was best worn as a crown!
About ten decorated wreaths made their way home with their creators at the end of the evening....and one stayed with the hosts.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Seasonal Knitting

 Although I don't do much seasonal knitting ( aka christmas knitting ), there has been a small amount going on. A quick visit to fivemoons studio last week yielded a beautiful merino yarn. A pattern was soon drafted, and then knitted up.
Barley was co-opted as model. This was the result....The Christmas Cabled Cowl.  The yarn is gorgeous....soft, squishy, very touchable ( i.e. suitable for those who react to wool by itching! )
It has been wrapped and given. I hope my friend likes it!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Colour work

A few posts ago, I was enthusing about some new yarn. It is likely to be a new line of yarns, from Juno Fibre Arts. So far, the colours are the natural pale grey, and a wonderful, deep red. The red, which is called  Harts' Blood, has a slight variation in depth of tone, which I really love. The yarn itself is very reminiscent of Icelandic yarns, but is also very soft. I would even go so far as to say- cuddly. It is a Masham/Bluefaced Leicester blend.
I have made a tension square, and knitted up one cowl. ( I still need to weave in ends, and block it). It is quite nice, but does not fit exactly with my intent.
So, a second is on the needles. Slightly bigger, with a little tweaking of the colour-work design. It should be finished in a couple of days.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Exmoor shopping

Nick and I went down to Dulverton yesterday. The reason for our visit was Dulverton by Starlight. A beautiful, tiny town on Exmoor, we both love it. Apart from a Co-Operative Food store, the shops are small individual businesses. My favourite clothes shop, Castlemoor, a wonderful bookshop cum gallery, called Number 7, a couple of lovely delicatessens, and many other shops.
We called into The Tantivy for coffee. It came with a delicious, buttery waffle.....with their name pressed into it! (Excellent coffee.) They also sell a range of Bridgewater china, cards, books with an Exmoor theme, and lovely gifty type foods. ( Yes, we did a little shopping).

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Knit /Cake Night

It was Close Knit on Friday....or Fight Club, as some of the members call it. (I don't know why, it is one of the gentlest, warmest group of women that I know).
Anyway, cake has to be eaten, so I made a batch of spiced fairy cakes. Five ounces each of butter, golden caster sugar, and self-raising flour. Two large eggs. A good teaspoon of Chinese five spice. Usual method. Then iced with a slightly lemon-flavoured icing, and scattered with edible gold stars.

Friday, 6 December 2013


                                       Sloe Gin...filtered and ready for consumption.
                                                  ( Although it is for presents, really).

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Sunlit walk.

                              At this time of the year, sunlit days are a bonus, to be cherished.

Advent spur

A little trip to fivemoons studio, a rifle through the new stock, and ideas for a new project were spawned. At the moment, I really have quite enough  projects in progress, but the realisation that we have entered Advent acted as something of a spur.
This will be a simple cowl, a small gift for a new colleague. The yarn is wonderfully soft, 100% Merino. fivemoons  Luna DK , moonclad . It is almost half done, having started it on Monday evening.
But once this is done, I really must get on with some of the neglected WIPs sitting by my chair. (And certainly before Quince decides they are fair game for carrying around! )
Some Seasonal Baking is in order, too. The main cake has still to be made, along with checking the ingredient list for superlative Ginger Cake, and Christmas Pudding.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Lap dogs

           There will be no knitting tonight.....the Girls have decided that they are lap-dogs.

Saturday, 30 November 2013


Teapots are part of the everyday crockery of this household. There are several on the Dresser, of differing sizes. The most used, most essential, size is the two-cup. The two-cup teapot is plied through-out the day, an essential glue to the parallel lives lived by Best Beloved, and myself, during the week.

Disaster struck last week, when our regular pot came away from it's handle. That was messy. We had a spare tucked away in the cupboard, though. The spare was used for a few days...and the handle came off !  Well, that was rather a shock. So, I got out the pot that we keep for when Sister-In -Law comes to stay...the Earl Grey pot. Purely as a temporary measure, until a replacement was found. So, a search around the likely shops in Taunton, and I arrived at  Mr. Miles' Tearooms. An excellent emporium, which sells tea and coffee, as well as all the paraphernalia that could possibly be needed when making and serving tea or coffee.
I finally found this delightful pot. On asking if I might return it, should it prove to drip when poured, the very helpful lady assistant filled it with hot water, and checked that it did pour properly, and used the chance to check that it would fill two large mugs. ( you would not believe the number of times I have found teapots that a) do not pour without dripping, and b)  do not hold the volume declared! ) The pot was then carefully wrapped, to minimise transit damage. Exit one very happy customer.
( This lovely little place also serves delicious lunches).

[If you click on the picture, it will enlarge. The animals on the sides are delightful.]

Sun on the Beech

This group of trees is  growing just over a mile from our cottage, alongside a busy road. Every time I pass, this Autumn, I have to smile. The Beech and Birch have been so very golden, making a pool of sunshine on the dullest days. Today, with the sun shining on them, I just had to take a picture....the leaves will soon be off the trees, and then it will be as though that beauty never existed. Such is the ephemeral nature of Nature's Beauty!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Renewed purpose

When we came to this cottage, fifteen or so years ago, I was not a regular knitter, and certainly not a confident one. Nevertheless, I embarked on knitting an Aran cardigan. A thigh-length one. As you see, I managed the back. Try as I might, I could never get very far on the fronts. The length (bottom of photo) you see was as far as I got at each attempt, before seeing a mass of mistake.  I now know that two lines of pattern were transposed. I doubt if anyone, as novice as I was, ever got any further.  
 The project sat, unloved, in my cedar chest, until yesterday. There was a post on Wovember about re-using old wool sweaters, and generally recycling good textiles. A light bulb went on in my head..... this  could be the first of my wool cushions for the kitchen chairs!

So, I have unravelled the front, and the back as far as one row below the arm-holes. The yarn was re-skeined on my big niddy-noddy, washed, and is now hanging to dry.
I have picked up the stitches on the remaining part of the back, and will continue in moss stitch to match the length already there.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


 The Susanna Ic Autumn Mystery Knitalong has come to a close. People are finishing their projects, and posting photos of their shawls. Here is mine. It is the large size, no beads, in a lovely deep Moss colour. It will make a lovely Christmas gift for my Mother. 51% baby alpaca, 49% cashmere, it is as soft as butter to handle. I do hope she likes it.

Detail of the lace from the shawl.
The BFL/Masham  DK that I received a while ago, has knitted up beautifully.  It feels like Shetland wool, when I am knitting it, and does resemble it, once knitted up. Since the picture (above ) was taken, I have unravelled the sample, knitted a proper test sample, and washed and blocked it. It came out at 22 stitches by 30 rows over a 4 inch square. Standard double knit. Phew!
So, I have cast on , and am in the process of working up a cowl. There should be a skein of the same yarn, dyed in a good heart's blood colour, arriving shortly. A simple fair-isle design is wafting around in the ether, here at Dragonside.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Work, continued....

Today, at work.................
                                              Lots of colour. ( Preparing yarn for an order. )

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Spin/Knit TV

Have you heard about Slow Television? It is in the same mind-set as Slow Food. I have heard lots of snippets about a 'Sheep to Shoulder'  Television programme, from Norway, but until today, had not been able to trace it.  So, have a look, and see what you think. My opinion? It is inspired!

It goes on for about thirteen hours. I watched half an hour, or so, and put it on pause. I will be going back to watch more!

Friday, 15 November 2013


It had been a very yellow autumn, so far. Quite beautiful, but it seemed that the development of colour had been arrested.  Then, one night of hard frost, followed by a couple of bright, sunny days. Suddenly, plantations of Birch have become gleaming rivers. Beech hedgerows shine on hilltops like burnished copper. Alder trees have dropped their leaves overnight, leaving just a few  waving, white on the ends of blackening branches, as if in surrender. Cherry leaves, the yellow and pink echoing the colour of their young fruit. Dogwood and Spindle, their leaves pools of dark wine.

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

British Wool

 Great excitement today.....the arrival of some new yarn. This is a Bluefaced Leicester/Masham blend. Double knit, Roving-style singles. It is a lovely, soft, heathered pale grey. British wool, spun in England. (I think the Mill is in Yorkshire, but I am not certain). I have wound it into a cake, and cast on some stitches, in order to knit a tension square. Update shortly! The arrival of this yarn at  Juno Fibre Art is the reason for one of the swatches in the Proliferation post.
The next picture is a roll of British Gotland. Another Wovember project. I think it feels like a Brillo pad, but have been told that once spun and washed, it will become something completely different. I do hope so! 
I shall be taking this to Coldharbour spinning group, tomorrow. I will find out then.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Quiet time

                                    All set for a quiet afternoon knitting. ( Dogs permitting! )

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Wooly add-ons

 The proliferation seems set to continue.... I could not resist going into The Wool Merchant in Tiverton, earlier. We spend so much time in the kitchen, at home, that the chairs need a little something to make them a bit more comfortable.  Spying the selection of Blacker wools in the shop, I thought ''ooh, cushions! '' Maybe cabled, or colour work, who knows ( yet). Two Ryeland Aran weight, in Natural, and two Pure Shetland DK in Moorit.
The reason I passed The Wool Merchant, was my quest for some more enamelled poppy pins, from the Royal British Legion. They are only available from the Clubs, not the people selling from trays. Best Beloved and I have started wearing them instead of the disposable paper ones. We put our donations into the collection tins in the usual way, just do not take the paper poppy.
The only snag, is moving them from one garment to another, if you wear a cluster of them ( as I do ). So, I made a 'brooch' to put them on.
I used the excellent pattern  Little Leaves , from Alana Dakos, and Never Not Knitting. A few yards of Wensleydale Longwool DK, knitted up on 2mm needles. ( That is NOT a mistake). This makes a very tight and firm fabric. A safety pin sewn onto the back, just above the centre line, completes the project.
Add the poppy pins to the leaf, in an artistic manner, and there! Ready for Armistice Day/ Remembrance Sunday.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


Project Proliferation is not a syndrome I generally suffer from. Over the last few weeks, though, I seem to have fallen prey to it.
From the left - A short sleeved sweater, Southport by Rowan ( with modifications), a dishcloth (cream), a Fair Isle-style sweater that I am designing ( spots), a swatch for a lace shawl ( white ), a  Susanna Ic MKAL  shawl (dark green) in cashmere,  a swatch for a Fair Isle cowl (cream and red ), the first of a pair of simple socks  (two-tone green), and finally , a short scarf in silk hankies /mawata.
The two skeins? Oh, well, I have a pattern for a wonderful wrap, and the wool ( yes, I mean wool ) to make it with.
I also have plans for some gloves, a set of cushion covers for the kitchen chairs, and.......well, lots more.
The Susanna Ic shawl is certain to be completed before too long. It is a gift for my Mother in a couple of months time. The others.....well, they will get done, or they will be unravelled - in time.

{ Goodness - What a lot of green ! }

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Colours of Nature

 Juno has been working on some new colours for yarn. Obviously inspired by seasonal produce.

Safe and sound

Once the arrangements for yesterday had been completed, I went into my sewing room, to get the tripod for my camera. The tripod has not been out of its bag since Wonderwool Wales. Lying behind the tripod Dragon brooch! Relief!
I don't know how she got into the bag....I am just pleased that she is safely home.

Samhain /Halloween

Whichever you are celebrating, I wish you a safe and enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Autumn colour

 The Autumn colour that we have been promised is finally beginning to show. Above, fruits of the Wild Service tree.  Below, leaves turning colour, Witchhazel ( Hamamelis mollis ).

Tuesday, 29 October 2013


I had to attend an event, last Friday, and was planning on wearing my beloved Dragon brooch, my Sigil.  Despite turning the house almost inside out, and upside down, I have been unable to find it.
I know that I wore it to the last Guild meeting, but cannot remember anything further.
Wish me luck in finding her.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Shades and tones.

Today, at work..................
 Preparing to send out a large order ( a well-known Yarn Store...)....
and drying dyed silk hankies.

( There were sixteen different shades of yarn on the table [top pic]. Sadly, my camera does not reproduce colour as well as I would like.) 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Ready for Winter

The weather has finally turned. It is stormy - lots of rain, and blustery winds. Although it is not cold yet, we will be ready when it comes.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

More yarn....

Today, at work...........
                                                               Prepping yarn......