Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Sleepy day

First day back at the ranch and boy oh boy have we perfected the pace of what kind of chocolate shall we eat next. Appropriately layered up we just peeped out for a turn around the park and a breath of cold, fresh air but with piles of new pressies to enjoy and accommodate somewhere our attentions have been definitely homesteady.  Miss Nina has been making sure that we spend the requisite amount of time forming a seat for her. It's fair to say these furries missed us, though I have my suspicions that has more to do with the warmth of our laps and the extra turns we give the central heating.

These quiet days both here with our Siamese twinset and about with family are my favourite of the festive season. Time to just sit and be, to watch a movie, to chat about nothing very much at all. Days without name or order in the week somehow. Is it Wednesday today? I think I asked that yesterday.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cosying in

Cosy window with fairy lights
Today I began what I like to think of as a five day cosying in intensive. On holiday now until January 5th it's time to slow down and sink in to the festive season in my own home. I've been out and about a lot, delightful as all that has been I'm ready to pull back in to a quieter place.

One Christmas shopping mission to complete tomorrow and beyond that I shall only be tempted from my nest if the weather demands a walk. The kind of walk that will put roses in my cheeks and let me return home in absolute need of a hot chocolate. That is all that could drag me out of here, the Christmas CDs are on, the frankincense incense sticks are smouldering, I am breathing deeper, feeling so grateful for this funny little corner of the world that is my sanctuary.

I am branding the mess charming so there is a just a little housework to be done. Laundry mountain and a few fierce cobwebs need conquering so that when I head down to Cornwall to spend a few days with my parents I shall do so with the happy thought of returning to a fairy light bedecked, somewhat ordered abode. The kind of place where I can carry merrily on with the pace of 'what kind of chocolate shall I have for breakfast?' I intend to cultivate this year.

There is room for a little more decking of the halls, though now those fairy lights are up and I've hung the garland I made last weekend at The Mill I can rest easy if I don't untangle the pompoms and apple baubles that have spent their quiet months in the attic getting a little too friendly.

I think there may be a little more crafting, though honestly who knows. I've been in a real lull, that garland is the only tangible thing I have made in a long time. No more wreaths got made. Less of the homemade than even last year. Literally months without knitting a stitch. Yet I can sense my creative muse opening a sleepy eyelid, just pondering what to surprise me with next. She's heard that a visit to fabric and yarn emporia may be on the cards tomorrow. I'm shushing the inner accountant who wants to know what's wrong with the stuff on hand and letting her have her way. She's a fickle one but when she's on it, I'm happiest. If you'd told me that changing to part-time work would have led to a decrease in my crafting I'd have thought you were crazy and yet that has been the reality.

I'm not entirely sure why. It seemed like a backwards step for a long while but lately I've really learnt that sometimes going in the right direction doesn't look like you expect it to. All this soul work is not as pretty as handwork that is for sure. Still this has been my path. Walked willingly this autumn, my summer temper tantrums behind me. Now I am back on the path, now I am actually practising all the good things that help with the support of a wonderful framework I am starting to feel the rewards, one of which I hope is a long awakening for my creative muse. One of which is definitely a bit more energy to enjoy the simple pleasures of life; like finding the perfect place to hang the fairy lights.

Wishing us all a light and bright holiday time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Gifts from November

Beech trees at Wytham Woods

Fabric leaves from Cartwheels Craft Centre course

Tiny fungi

To my own surprise I'm really rather enjoying this November and without too much conscious effort to embrace its awkward corners. Not a month that normally fills me with excitement, too many grey skies and dark evenings, too much autumn fatigue - a not quite winter but it might as well be sort of association. Happily it's got more of an October extension vibe going on this year, still very much autumn here which is suiting me down to the leaf carpeted ground. Every time I walk outside I come back in with yet another clutch of leaves which I strew artfully about the place - perhaps more aptly described as covering every available surface so it looks rather like a storm just blew right through the house! 

At the weekend we had a little jaunt down to visit my parents in Cornwall and Mama and I started in on the Christmas craft-arama with a vengeance. Fabric leaves above were spares from a great wreath making day. The wreath itself is in hiding as it will be gifted, along with a few more if I get my sewing machine wheel spinning.

The most delightful gift from today was the discovery of a little sprinkling of the daintiest wee toadstools at the bottom of the garden. In amongst the leaves it looked as if spring was here early with a dusting of white blossom but closer inspection revealed these tiny little fungi. Almost too teeny to be true.

Friday, October 31, 2014

It Felt Love

White rose in shaft of sun through blinds

Pink rose with open outer petals

Beeswax candle in teacup with rose petals

Frilly pink rose against stripes of light

Older white rose opening out

Garden shrub rose blossoming again at the end of October

It Felt Love - Hafiz written out in my art journal

It Felt Love - Hafiz

How
Did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its
Beauty?

It felt the encouragement of light
Against its
Being
Otherwise
We all remain
Too frightened

Saturday, October 25, 2014

A treasury

Nature collected on treasury shelf

Crystal, feather, pine cones and petals in my treasury

Jay feathers in my collection

A few weekends ago I found this little wooden tray or shelf at a jumble sale. I am so head over heels in love with it. For twenty English pennies I bought myself a holder for the tiny pieces of my collection of pretties from nature. It sits to the right of the tv on our mantelpiece and I spend much of the time I am supposedly watching a programme gazing in adoration at these little treasures. I had to share as I feel I am in danger of turning in to a hoarding miser a la Mr Scrooge. sat at home gloating over my riches!

It seems fitting to feature it in a post of its own as there is a metaphor here for where this blog has headed; a space to hold the little pieces of life that I want to honour. With that extra clarity about what this blog is about these days I'll try not to let it get dusty in here just as I'll try to take the time to clean and curate this treasury.

Friday, October 03, 2014

It's just one day

Kitchen prep
It's my special day to myself day, each Friday beckons all week with its promise of plenty of time to do exactly what I please and yet by the time it arrives there are so many things to do (both a little dull and a lot lovely) and honestly, no energy for anything much. I'm finetuning the balance, starting a few chores, doing a little bit of a job to chip away at it, focusing on fun things. Above all reminding myself that it's just one day and a big part of the plan is to rest and recuperate! All of that perspective is a lot easier as I've 'achieved' something and got all the prep done for tonight's dinner of Aubergine-Almond Enchiladas. It was lovely, slow kitchen time that suited my mood perfectly. There have to be special somethings from these days so that they don't just disappear but the magic seems to be in trying out and finding the right something for the day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

On the curriculum

Lime tree seeds

First falling plum tree leaves

Lime leaf turned golden

Aestlight in Warm Pixie

Autumnal flourishes everywhere I look and I want to really dig in and notice the order and the pace with which the season arrives this year. It seemed to hasten in during August with heavy clusters of berries and more falling seeds than I associate with that month, perhaps the chill in the air made them seem more significant. Not much chill so far this month except for the slight edge morning and evening, a pleasing stroke of coolness that reminds me that wool really is rather lovable.

Stalled on another Aestlight, though past the lace and it's a simple garter border that is giving me pause. A question about which course of action to take, to rip back to fix a discrepancy in numbers or knitting a few stitches together and carrying on. This is one of those grey areas for me. I am not a knitter who has to know it is perfect to enjoy wearing a knit, nor yet one who bashes through all but the most terminal of 'adjustments'.

 I can sometimes enjoy a knit all the more for its vagaries, if it reminds me of a moment of its creation or just that perfection is not a standard that means happiness in life. Sometimes though it's deeply pleasing to have everything in order in at least the knitting. Ripping back and reknitting this won't take more than an hour I would guess which given it should last for years seems not much of an investment.

Though honestly will I ever notice or remember whichever option I take? This September will have other stand outs in the memory banks: a family wedding, the start of a new job,  a weekend away in Glastonbury. Without this blog acting as a flower press this moment of consideration would be just one of the many tiny decisions which flow through my life almost unheeded. I sometimes think I am decisive, big decisions seem to be made without too much agony. I sometimes think I am so indecisive, small decisions seem to take remarkable consideration.

Perhaps that is why I love these betwixt and between days so much, perhaps they are me more than I realise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Knothing

Blue and gold embroidery on calico
Oh the crispness in the air, the ripening of berries, the reddening of apples. Autumn is just around the corner and I am looking forward to the cooler days and cosy evenings. By the end of any season I am a little tired of the old one and ready to welcome all the special elements of the next. The transitional days between the seasons make me so particularly happy. The surprise of what you might get, the echoes of the season on the way out and the messengers of the one creeping in. The nostalgia, the gathering up of memories of what has passed and will never be again and then, ahead, excitement at what is around the next bend. The sense of here and now, balanced betwixt and between.

Summer 2014 has been a a real summer and while I welcomed the blue skies, long days and being able to be outside so much I've also struggled health wise, and particularly with the energy to get things done, to get to work, to get home with any thought of doing anything and the heat has not made getting around any easier. Oh but I wouldn't wish away the hours in my new chair, under my trees. A wonderful gift. Always that slight bittersweet tinge of regret for what is going, going, gone and what didn't get to be but mostly, anticipation of the new possibilities.

One of my favourite souvenirs of this season is the french knot. This summer I finally learnt to make an intentional knot in my embroidery thread and feel a real thrill at those little swirls, bobbles balanced, work suspended. I've lost count of the failed learning the mystical knot attempts there have been and can still remember feeling a great sense of relief when reading in her beautiful book that Caroline Zoob had never mastered these tricky little creatures. It let me off the hook but  didn't quite remove a yearning to have bested them. So when Squam cabin mate extraordinaire Austen came back from class one day to show off some exquisitely formed knots I readily took her up on the offer to teach me too. With her clear explanation and demonstration it really was, finally, simple. The knots just stayed where I put them. I don't really understand the magic, I suppose like all of these thread wrangling activities,  it's really about how you tension the work as you carry out the actions. Whatever the charm I am still enchanted by these dainty carbuncles. Threading the needle to create a few more is my favourite current pastime free from any should, must or need. Simply twiddling my fingers and thumbs and watching what appears.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Holiday snaps







Sweet memories of a quiet, mellow, rich week lost in the Welsh Borders. Cuddling creatures, cooking in a fabulous kitchen, eating breakfasts pondside with the most phenomenal view.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Warm and mellow

Dappled sunlight

A moth awoken

Pelargonium

Gathering plums

Perfect garden seat
Feeling very deep in summer here today. Soft and relaxed. In theory I am shining my house to look new pinnish so when we return from holidays it will wow me with its unexpected tidiness. Instead I am drifting and lolling and gleefully gathering evidence of the benefits of indolence.

The bright pelargoniums planted last year have been telling me for months now that trying too hard is often destined to back fire. I managed to get around to replanting one of their companions to overwinter indoors, it of course rotted and died. Those I mercilessly left to that fate survived our very mild winter to flourish as the stars of my haphazard garden this season.

Time in the chair has revealed a secret treasure I would undoubtedly have missed if I had been more endeavoursome. Tucked in the crook of two branches with about half a dozen twigs is a nesting collar dove. It looks impossibly vulnerable from my seat and yet its very slight nature is the perfect camouflage and it is all but invisible from any other angle.

Simple pleasures that come when I let them. A special kind of magic in not doing and just being.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hazy






The last month feels as if it has passed in a haze of heat, though in truth it's only the second half of the month that has really reached high temperatures. So much summer for the first time in years. I watch half the people I see flourish while the other half wilt. I'm a wilter. Things happen almost as in a dream at the moment, one foot in front of another. The love affair with wool is suffering mightily though a new attempt at Aestlight gets a row every so often when a breeze makes the concept of a wool shawl seem something this side of insanity. My main pre-occupation is maximising the amount of time that can be spent reading in my awesome new garden chair in my shady back garden. My own personal Adirondack chair custom fit by my very clever Pa. Other members of the family are also fond of it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Summer scenes

Monkey sock in Rowan Fine Art yarn in progress

Rowan Fine Art yarn loose on the campsite

St Mary's, Chipping Norton

The Apiary, Chipping Norton

Beautiful cottage garden, Chipping Norton

Guard dog, Chipping Norton

Solstice sky

Unfurling roses in my garden
Gorgeous days. We went on a camping trip in glorious sunshine and made the most of the longest day. Actual summer weather continues!

Friday, June 20, 2014

In my hands

Rosewood US7 DPNS from Fringe Supply Co

Rosewood DPNs from Fringe Supply Co close up

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter - Button Jar - leftovers

Fingerless mitts in Shelter

Rowan sock yarn
Deciding to learn to knit involved remarkably little thought. I'd seen a friend knitting and it looked so fun. A few months went past, winter was setting in, I wasn't very well at all and I was spending a whole lot of time on the sofa watching tv and feeling that I wanted to make something to show for that time. So I ordered a kit from Amazon. Just what they had. Zero research. Little ambition to be able to make anything more than a scarf. And then reader I married knitting. My whole world changed in ways I could never imagine - and truly that is no exaggeration.

Somewhere in the last few years I've managed to get so far from that impulsive, just make something instinct that it drives me more than a little crazy. Now I spend so much time thinking about making things I often don't ever get started on them. I've either convinced myself they won't look as good as I want them to or I've taken the fizz of excitement out of a project or I've told myself that it's too hard/the stuff is inaccessible/it's not worth doing - fill in the crushing reason of the day. The unimaginable never gets a look in. This is not a revelation from Squam, more something that has been dogging these past months when not enough time has been cleared out of the excuse roster. I am hoping though that the hit of inspiration from Squam will be what finally gets the crafts from head to hand.

Spending time with my cabin mates - eight fabulous, obsessive, awesome, accomplished knitters made me remember how it felt to be a knitter like that. Not just someone who knows how to knit but someone who feels the magic of where a pastime becomes a passion. So when it comes to  dwelling in the feeling of bubbling creativity there was only one place to start. Knit more!

At the Squam Art Fair I picked up a couple of beautiful souvenirs to grease these palms. The loveliest needles I've ever owned - rosewood DPNs from Fringe Supply Co and a skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (having been utterly convinced  of its splendidness by a wonderful talk from Jared Flood and seeing this lovely stuff in person). 

So for the hands, mitts of course. Sadly the softness of the yarn and the chunkiness of the DPNs left me unable to pull the yarn tight enough to prevent annoying ladders at the needle joins that just take the edge off the joy of the FO (along, perhaps??? with the Mr's christening of them as my 'down and out mitts' and his offer of a photo shoot while clasping a bottle of booze - so much for poetic musings about the wonder of crafting for your hands with your hands!!). Dreams of an annual pair of mitts in all the shades have been shelved! I'll just have to bend my thoughts to other delicious one skein or less Shelter projects. The leftovers are already calling out for friends to stripe with them, the blends in the colourways are just so enticing.

Thinking about knitting is definitely fun but in this brave new world it must of course be accompanied by knitting itself so I turned to the easiest of my WIPs to re-engage with. Rowan Fine Art  socks that had been languishing not far off the toe of the first, I thought I could just pick them back up but a quick review made it clear why the needles had slowed - the sock felt too big and the leg too short - I'd persisted but eventually got the blahs for good reason.  Pictured in its kinkiness above is the now twice frogged yarn. I jumped quickly from Just Rights to Simple Skyps. Love that pattern but this yarn is too noisy for a happy pairing there so with not even a photo to memorialise the second incarnation I'm on to the third. Hoping that the classic Monkey is the charm. Yarn this pretty deserves a good knitting.
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