Sunday, 28 February 2010

seven days

Ali's seven days of specialness had to be my February highlight. My swap partner Pennie went to enormous trouble to ensure I felt very special.

There were the delicious lemon muffins to get the show on the road.... then there was chocolate (eaten before the camera got anywhere near it), a tin of Tregothnan tea (did you know tea is grown in Cornwall?), a beautiful red felty bowl, aniseed balls (a favourite of mine which I apparently mentioned on a post in the distant past. See, Pennie was so very thorough with her research).


A fishy cross stitched bookmark , seen here nestling between the covers of Nigel's latest. I can recommend his cabbage soup recipe.


Five tiny pots, planted with herb seeds. So far, four have germinated. I'll be eating some marjoram, basil, sage and dill this summer. Fingers crossed for the thyme. (note to self - they need pricking out).


A packet of sweet pea seeds, in my favourite deep red (get your own here).


And finally, this beautiful scarf, knitted just for me.


This really blew me away. I love the pattern, the colour, everything. Waves of beautiful silky blue rippling along its length. No-one has ever knitted me anything before, so you can imagine how special this felt. I've had several attempts at photographs, and none of them have really worked. This is as good as it gets.

Pennie, thank you so very much.

Ali, can we make this an annual event?

Friday, 26 February 2010

flowers


I have no words. I've been rather grumpy all week, but these flowers, they make me smile. The last few from a beautiful bunch I was unexpectedly given a couple of weeks ago. Thank you, Davey. I tell you, he cooks, he knits, he buys flowers. And I'm sure he has many other talents that Pipany is keeping under wraps...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

thrifty storage

A little retro storage spied in one of my local charity shops. I'm assuming these were for storing singles, back in the days of my youth. You do remember having a turntable to play your records on, don't you?


At forty nine pence each I couldn't resist. A perfect way to keep track of my stationery collection, which seems to be growing...


When I had my mini cards printed I also had some note cards done. I love them...and then a week later I find Moo have suddenly discontinued them. I'm cross. I was going to get some more done, but I'm too late.

Ps :: If you'd like some of your own personal stationery, check out Tanya's great giveaway. You have until the end of the month.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

knitting as therapy

Sometimes life trips you up just when you least expect it.

A telephone call on friday took an unexpected turn down a rather more unpleasant route than the one I was anticipating. A simple misunderstanding that escalated out of control. By the time I'd put the phone down I was feeling a little bruised. My brain went into overdrive, and I knew I needed to calm down, and let go of the stories going round and round in my head. I'm not one to hang on to things, preferring to sort out disagreements where possible, then let go and move on. Life is too short. Fortunately, I had a quiet weekend planned, as I just wanted to retreat and think things through.

Solace was found in picking up my needles and a new ball of wool. This pattern has been on my knit list for a while now, and it seemed the perfect opportunity to try a little knitting as therapy.


I've not done any cables before, but these were simple enough once I got going. It was the perfect knitting for calming the mind - the challenge of something new, but not too demanding, coupled with going round and round and round and round.


I've modified the pattern by increasing the cable repeats both at the cuff and the finger end, and doing six extra rounds of rib for the palm (ravelry notes suggested the sizing came up small). Even so, they're not quite long enough for me which is just as well as I've knitted them for a surprise gift. Had they fitted, I might have been tempted to keep them. I'm planning a pair for myself in this wool (aran, colour: seville) from my christmas stash.

So I can recommend knitting for stilling a busy mind. Thankfully, the misunderstanding has now been resolved, and I can start the week on an even keel. Even if my in-box is overflowing with unanswered emails.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

on a whim

A couple of weeks ago I was looking idly through all the photos I have taken since I started blogging. They're not sorted into any particular category, nor are the bad ones deleted. It's just an accumulation of nearly nine thousand photographs, though I can pretty much date them by my blog posts. I didn't have a digital camera until I started blogging, then it became a necessity. Looking back through the archives one of my all-time favourites is this photo (which I've posted before).


I spend many a winter walk looking upwards through the bare branches, enjoying the different shapes they make against the sky. These walks remind me of this beautiful poem by Mary Oliver, from her collection Thirst.


When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks, and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness
I would almost say that they save me, daily.

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, "Stay awhile."
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, "It's simple," they say,
"and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light and to shine."


For me, part of the joy of taking photographs is being out in nature, or bringing little bits home with me. It's these photos that make up a big part of that unedited collection (almost matched by the number of photos of Walter) so on a whim I had some Moo cards made. Sometimes that long thin crop doesn't quite work, but indulge me while I share them. One of the reasons I love them is that they're so small, and so easy to slip into your pocket.






They make a perfect little gift tag, or a tiny note slipped into an equally tiny envelope.


I couldn't leave him out, could I? But I did restrain myself to just two images.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

tête-à-tête

A little tête-à-tête is good for the soul...

Both to look at...


And face-to-face...

On friday I spent a lovely day with my dear friend Pipany. A day that contained much chatter, knitting, laughing, eating, playing with Walter on the beach, drinking coffee (in the morning) and graduating to tea (in the afternoon) as time ticked by. And eventually, a glass of wine as I was invited to stay for supper. A few planned hours drifted effortlessly into twelve...

We also made some delicious lemon muffins. This was a collaborative effort. The ready-prepared dry ingredients, along with the muffin cases and a lemon, were sent to me as part of my seven days of specialness parcel. Genius! My oven is on the blink, so Pip's was used, and the delicious results shared. Thank you Pennie for an amazing week of gifts (more of which in another post).


And now another weekend has flown by. A weekend which eventually produced a glorious afternoon of warm sunshine and blue skies. I felt like I was having a peek at spring.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

ticking

I stripped my bed this morning and decided it was time to turn the mattress. As I looked at row upon row of stripes, I was reminded just how much I like ticking. It's a simple, utility fabric that is probably best known for covering mattresses and pillows.


I love it for it's clean, modern lines - even though it's a centuries-old fabric, it seems bang up-to-date. Pared down, simple and under-stated.


Ian Mankin is probably the king of ticking, and as I've mentioned before, the samples are generous. This gave me the excuse to have a rummage and get mine out, just for a peep. I know, I know, I should make something else with them.

ocean :: mist :: blueberry

I particularly like these ticking stripes - part of the organic range. I've always fancied having an armchair upholstered in ticking.

One day.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

twenty minutes

A couple of weeks ago I joined the 'twenty minuters' started by Marmalade Rose. The intention is to craft for twenty minutes every day, throughout the year. A great idea - twenty minutes is short enough to squeeze in on a busy day, and when time is no object, it just hooks you in, and quickly doubles, then triples.....

So far it's mainly been knitting that I've been focusing on, but the lure of my scalpel blade and cutting mat is never far away. That, and piles of old magazines that need to be re-purposed where possible before they hit the recycling. Today it was gift tags.


I like looking through old images, re-cropping them to change the perspective, or perhaps pick out a particular detail I'm drawn to.


Then a little card-stock, and a spray of photo mount (not the most eco choice I know, but glue sticks just don't give the smooth and permanent results I like - I'm fussy) followed by the hole punch.


And then there's the fun of choosing the thread or string. The off-white reel is bookbinders' linen thread (available here or here), which comes in various weights, and is cheaper than buying linen thread for sewing.


The black thread is from the saddlery department of my local farm supplies shop. It's cheap, I love the old-fashioned feel of the packaging, and who says you can only use it for plaiting horses' manes?

The queen of re-purposing magazine images is Caireen. She makes lovely tags, cards and envelopes. She has a Folksy Shop, too.

So what crafting can you fit in to twenty minutes? I bet it will inspire you to do something as opposed to nothing.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

sunday lie-in

The essential start to a relaxed sunday....

lucky me

A couple of days ago a parcel arrived with an american stamp....

A soft squidgy parcel....

From Sarah at The Plucky Knitter....


A skein of fingering weight merino I was lucky enough to win in Sarah's last giveaway.

It's so so soft, and such a beautiful colour.....

So now, decisions, decisions.....what shall I knit? Any suggestions?

Thanks so much, Sarah!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

seville season

If you like marmalade, and more to the point, making your own, then you'll know it is the season for Sevilles. It's a very short season - a matter of a few weeks in January and early February. Blink and you'll miss it. I love marmalade on toast for breakfast, and there's nothing quite like raiding your own store cupboard for some of the homemade variety.


I am perhaps a bit of a late starter with marmalade. I only started eating it regularly a few years ago, and then started making my own. I haven't bought any since - shop-bought marmalade seems rather too sweet and cloying now. I've tried various recipes, but always come back to the one I used that first time. It's consistently good, even though every batch is different. I often freeze the oranges if I'm short of time, and save the making for another day. You need a few hours set aside for preparing the fruit followed by the actual making, which is enhanced by the fragrant orange scent that wafts through the house.


So my store cupboard is filling up - my very own marmalade stash. A few more batches will see me through to next year, along with the jars I give away (usually as impromptu gifts when visiting friends). Are you a marmalade maker? Or maybe you just like eating it....

Feasts and Festivals, a new food blog written by my friend Liz, has a great post on all things Seville, and much more besides. Do visit!

Monday, 1 February 2010

hello, february

So February is here, and January is done and dusted.

It was a month of loose ends, catching up, organizing, and doing all the necessary bits and pieces for my tax return (a task I annually put off until the very last minute. That was the last time, ever. This year is going to be different - all part of unprocrastinating). In fact, the unprocrastinating has started quite well. I think I will do the odd catch-up post here and there.

So February, what do you bring?

(hwevrer is cornish for february)

New images on my calenders - always fun to turn the page.

Lighter mornings and slowly, joyously, the lengthening days as we emerge from winter darkness.

Daffodils - in the fields all around me where they are grown for the commercial market, blooming early in the mild cornish climate. And of course they are bursting out of the florists around town, buckets overflowing. I'm sure the odd vase full will grace my house, too.


Writing up plans and lists for the month ahead. Things that must be done, and things I'd like to do. I like a good list.

Thinking about a new knitting project - I'd like to knit a jumper, and was given some vouchers for wool from my sisters. I'm favouring this pattern, but am also taken with this and this. What do you think?

I seem to have slipped into a little ritual of afternoon tea and crumpets - hope that continues through the month.

And I realize too the difference it makes when I write a blog post on the first of the month. Start as you mean to carry on. It helps set my intention for the days ahead, rather than letting them drift by.

February, I'm ready. A short month, and I want to make the most of it.