Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Early bulbs

I do love to have early flowering bulbs in the house straight after Yuletide. The bright fresh colours, and clean smells give promise of Spring, and the possibility of new experiences. While I love the paperwhite narcissus, Best Beloved favours forced Hyacinths. The deep blue are his favourites. I hope to have some ready as the paperwhites go over.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Midwinter / Yule
Sitting at the opposite end of the year to Midsummer, this is also part of that older tradition I wrote of then. The Oak King, having defeated him in a fight reminiscent of rutting stags, now takes over from the Holly King, as consort to Mother Nature/Nature Goddess.
 The Lady, of course, is constant. Having presided over Samhain as the Crone, she retired to sleep away the winter, returning to the world rejuvenated, as a Maiden, in time for Imbolc, and bringing with her all the new growth in plants and animals.
Now, though, we heap the fires, and feast. Every culture has their own version of this middle-of-the -winter-dark festival, to remind ourselves that it will end.

     May your Yule celebrations be well blessed.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Small treasures

A little walk around my garden, last evening, yielded a small posy. Some of the flowers are supposed to be out now, the others don't seem to realise that they should have given up long ago. The posy consists of:

Two small buds of Rosa 'Joie de Vivre'
A sprig of Orlya
Five Erigeron
Four white Viola, ( these should all be over by now)
Two stems of Viburnum fragrans,
Two stems of Viburnum tinus,
One stem of Viburnum plicatum
Three stems Lonicera fragrantissima,

but no winter Helleborus, or Chimonanthus praecox ( wintersweet) as yet. They are small joys to be looked forward to.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Knitting for calm.

Despite all the uproar surrounding my baking disasters, I am calmly knitting on. A few days after completing the Icelandic cardigan, I cast on for an Aran cardigan. There is a little story behind the design, and another behind the yarn.

In the late 1970s, I bought a really lovely second-hand Aran cardigan at a church fete. It was short, for the time, not quite hip-length. A very simple pattern, some cables and twists, with one lobster claw braid either side of the front. Natural white, with neat square leather buttons. I loved it, and wore it to death. Despite always looking, I have never been able to find a similar pattern

In 1996, my Mother bought some Aran yarn for me. I started to make a long (thigh length) cardigan. The back was straightforward, and quickly completed. The front, however was a different matter. I must have got as far as the armhole six or seven times. Each time, I unravelled it, thinking I had misunderstood the instructions. In the end, it all went into a cupboard, under miscellaneous junk.
This spring, I unearthed it all, and read through the instructions. Ah, the difference experience makes..... the instructions for the top part of the left side had been transposed with the right. I would never have been able to complete the thing!  Anyway, I unravelled the whole thing, wound the yarn into skeins, and washed it.
So, with the reclaimed yarn, now almost vintage, I am trying to recreate the church fete Aran cardi. I am working purely from yarn swatch stitch counts, and intuition.
There was the slightest panic, when I realised that I was missing a gift for a loved relative. Some John Arbon Organic Merino Aran was quickly purchased in Dulverton, at Nimble Fingers.  An ''Intuition Cowl '' was cast on, and  two evenings knitting later, a seasonal-panic-knitting gift completed!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Baking Disaster!

Three ruined cakes in four days!
I have always enjoyed baking, and have not been too bad at it. We have a tradition of giving home-made cakes to friends for Yuletide gifts.
So, I made the first Dundee cake. Good. Then the second - not good. Burnt. Hmm. So I made the first Ginger cake. It sank! I hadn't opened the door during the baking, so what was going on?  I have bought a new oven thermometer, and checked the shelf position. The third Dundee was made, and put in... and that sank too!
I am really cheesed off, more than a little bewildered, and not baking for the foreseeable future.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Home, Sweet Home.

Every year, Best Beloved and I are invited, by certain friends, to a 'making' party. This year it was assembling and decorating Gingerbread houses. Fantastic fun, and a real sugar overload.
 The first picture is about halfway through the evening. At least another half-dozen houses were added to the 'village', later. Some were very restrained and elegant, others were notable by their exuberance.

 Our own effort was heavy on Liquorice, and chocolate. It was surprisingly difficult to find 'Walnut Whips', for the topiary. Once we had tracked some down, we then saw lots of something similar in Marks & Spencer! Ah, well. Note the chocolate 'log' store, and the  'Matchmakers' 'solar panels'.

Little sis was enthusiastic about our house, so I decided to make a little 'Water Mill' for her and her other half.
The Waggon Wheel is obviously standing in for the waterwheel!

                   And bobbly liquorice rounds for drive nuts. Yup, quite bonkers. Good fun, though.

Last word on Wovember ( this year! )

Very proud to have been given the Ewe-sain Bolt Award for my Icelandic cardi.

For lots more about Wovember, the awards, and working with wool, go and have a look at

Monday, 1 December 2014


Wovember Icelandic Cardigan....  cont'd.
The matching button-hole band was picked up and worked to match the first band. Praise be, it actually matched. Then, an applied I-cord was used to make the buttonholes. Then the whole thing was washed and soaked in conditioner, and pressed to shape on a towel and left to dry.
 In order that the whole of the Wovember Icelandic cardigan was handmade, I followed Kate Davies' instructions for making woven wool buttons. Despite being my first attempt, I am quite pleased with them. They were made from scraps of wool from the cardigan.
Here in place, there is one button in the green, and the lower four in the oatmeal. (The applied I-cord can be seen quite clearly, to the right of the buttons).
Although it has taken a few days to get photos taken and uploaded, the cardigan was completed within the Wovember timescale. I hope to wear it to the next Knit Night.
Hmm. Now, what to make next.......?