More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas cheer - free download

We had a wonderful Christmas as I hope you all did too. The first sign of the impending festive season around here is when the house is filled with the scent of hyacinths. These are usually bought in the market, but this year we actually managed to get our own bulbs to bloom, first time ever and probably due to Philip's big dose of tlc.
Next is our annual business lunch, which we both enjoyed at Ambiente this year, a lingering lunch of many shared dishes of flavoursome food, washed down with a glass or two of full bodied red. The light was fading as we left, but we were just in time to see a gorgeous sunset over York,
City sunset
It wouldn't be  Christmas without one of Cathryn's fabulous wreaths adorning the front door. For weeks before then I'd been feeding the cakes with their festive food, so all that remains to do a few days before is the enjoyable task of decorating them with fruit and nuts.
Cathryn's wreath
I try to make a different pattern every year
 and love experimenting with the colourful ingredients
Pattern, colour and texture, just like in a knitting pattern
It was lovely to have all four of the grandkids together as well as the boys (as I call them, now men) and their partners. Much as I asked him to calm down and chill, Philip was up early baking mince pies and bourikos, a delicious Turkish cheese and pastry savoury.
The four grandees

The other day the dark skies cleared briefly to a crisp cold blue, so we grabbed the chance to go out in search of holly and get our supply of seasonal organic vegetables straight from the farm. As my hair is still at the pixie cut stage, I needed a warm hat to cover the ears, so was delighted to rediscover the Shoowa Hat from my last century book, World Knits.
Moors avenue resplendent against the blue sky
Sunset over Fadmore
After I posted a pic on Facebook recently of me wearing the hat gathering the holly, many of you asked for the pattern. So to celebrate the coming of the New Year I'm republishing the pattern. When I eventually saw the book many years ago, to my horror I realised the charts, created in Stitchpainter, were, for the most part, unreadable (before Stitchpainter became media friendly). So after reaquainting myself with Illustrator and doing some jiggery pokery, I managed to redo the three charts and insert them into the pdf. A minor miracle for me, so hope you enjoy!
Download the pattern here.
The festive colours of the Shoowa Hat
Techniques include tucks, intarsia, circular knitting and fairisle
The hat is a mini workshop in the techniques listed above, but if you don't fancy facing them all in one design, then it would look equally stunning omitting the intarsia and the fairisle tucks and knitting in one colour with contrasting single-colour tucks at brim and crown. If you still feel extra interest is needed a brooch will do the trick.
Kings Staithe, York
The only bad news this Christmas has been the terrible floods. The poor people of Cumbria have had their homes flooded three times. I just don't know how they're coping, but my thoughts are with them.
Other side of the river
Star Inn the city
To a lesser extent we have flooding once more in York. For several years we've had a false sense of security, as after the army had to be called in about ten years ago, York's flood defenses were strengthened and have held fast since. York was protected up to 4.25m above summer river levels. At the moment, however, the level is at 4.99m and won't be receding until tomorrow. 
Museum Gardens
On Christmas Eve we were rung by the Environment Agency and advised not to go out unless absolutely necessary and to keep all animals in. At the moment there is some flooding at the top and bottom of our short road of twenty houses, but the water still hasn't entered any houses up to now. Fingers crossed that everyone stays warm and safe.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness for the New Year xx
Arlo and Django
PS The cats are at their wisest when it's wet  :) 

Thursday, 10 December 2015

In the swing...

... for Xmas now, P got the tree today and it's waiting in the garden to be installed when we have some small hands around to help dress it. A recent visit to Harlow Carr RHS garden got me going with their wonderful bauble-bedecked  trees making everywhere look SO festive.
Wonderful to look up and find baubles glinting in the trees
Some at lower levels too
P loves the wattle tunnel and woven hurdles
This garden is full of wonderful inspiration, I just loved all the stars, both big and small made from single dogwood wands, bent into a continuous star shape.
The yew foliage and berries added splashes of colour 
Bendy branches of willow would work just as well too
Felt cosy around the garden in knitted beret and
hand woven Irish scarf from Dingle 
Our favourite Xmas tipple, sloe gin, made from last year's bounty from the Mid-Wales hedgerows, has been bottled up ready to be enjoyed with family and friends. 
. Brings back lovely memories of gathering the sloes in autumn  last year
Cakes have been baked and duly brandy-fed and stored away until it's time for their next alcoholic meal. I even seem to be on top of the gifts this year - it's surprising how much you can get done with no pressure from work!

Even had time to rediscovered marbling the other day.Amazing instant gratification for Isabella and Ava, pattern and colour emerge almost effortlessly, just the job for tired young brains after school.
Isabella's favourite pattern
The girls hard at work
Ava's favourite pattern
I'm a firm believer in children being allowed to get dirty
 - at least nothing that warm soapy water won't sort out
And on the knitting front, my most recent FP is this pair of fingerless mittens made for a friend from wool she gave me after a visit to Orkney, where the sheep are fed on seaweed. Not quite sure how this affects the wool - thought at first it might change the colour a tad, but on thinking about it, realise that it's simply that seaweed is the most nutritious native crop for the sheep..
My knitting has been very simple since I've been unwell, but I decided
 to take the plunge again with fairisle in this pair of fingerless mittens
I was quite pleased with the result
Sadly not playing much guitar or ukulele recently, due to a stiff shoulder making it painful... think it may be telling me it's time to throw away my sticks and stop relying on my shoulers to take the strain. I do miss my morning music therapy so am trying my very best to walk unaided in the hope that the shoulder will respond positively.

Wishing you peace and joy over the festive season.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let's start with the good. It's been a quiet and colourful autumn here in York, with most of the leaves still hanging on and the garden resplendent with fruits, berries and blooms. Nasturtiums, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums, geraniums - yes the geraniums are still flowering their little hearts out - lavender, and even the evergreen magnolia trying hard, though I suspect that the large plump buds will come to nothing as they slowly turn browner and browner with the cooler weather.

Berries first...
The gorgeous iris foetidissima
Cotoneaster horizontalis
Next the fruits...
The blackbirds are working hard trying to finish off
 the grapes, but there are still a few bunches
Next year's figs

And finally the flowers...

Red geraniums sheltered by the front door
Ivy leaved geranium in a hopper
The hydrangeas are drying out now but still a lot of
colour to be had
Another favourite - hydrangea villosa
Small petalled and two tone as the colour drains...
Winter jasmine is just starting to flower
The sculptural castor oil flowers
Last of the bears breeches
This abutilon is slow to get going but doesn't seem to mind
when it gets a tad cold
This little volunteer is the hard worker of the garden - probably
blooming for nine months of the year and positioning
 itself tastefully wherever. it spots a space
Can't  beat a chrysanthemum at this time of year
Old favourite for cheerfulness and usefulness,still
providing leaves and flowers for salads in November.
In two colours too!
Quiet, that was, until news  of the horrific senseless violence in Paris and Beirut hit the news. What is it that from time immemorial, wars have been fought in the name of religion when in fact, I find it hard to believe that any god would sanction the widespread  taking of life that we've seen in recent years.

It's been said many times that the West has dual values when it comes to grieving, giving it more importance when death happens closer to home. Maybe this is true of the people in power, but for many of the rest of us life is precious and a life lost is always a tragedy. So the taking of life in the name of religion is the ultimate act of cowardly aggression and leaves the whole of humanity the poorer. 

There's a poem by Warsan Shire going around Facebook which says it all:
later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the
whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

So this candle burns for the victims in Paris and Beirut, their families and friends, the men, women and children lost to war whenever and wherever, and also for those fleeing violence - the refugees, many of whom will face another hard winter trying to escape the ravages of war.