Saturday, 21 December 2013

Christmas tree

Early yesterday morning when I was hanging out the washing before it was light, I noticed out little Christmas tree blown over... again. It has been so windy lately that this poor tree has spent most of its time horizontal. I stood it upright before I went to work.

In the afternoon I brought it inside and left it by the back door to dry a little. This is the fourth year we have brought it inside at Christmas and its beginning to look very straggly.

Today I moved it into the lounge and decorated it - it still looks a bit straggly but I've become quite fond or our "wonky" tree.

Today is the solstice, the darkest time, a pause between the shortening daylight and the lighter days to come. I have had candles burning most of the day, evergreens and light brought inside the house to remind us of the returning sunlight and longer days.

Happy Solstice for today

and lots of good wishes for a Happy Christmas.

Monday, 9 December 2013

quiet December

It is a quiet time of year here. The time between autumn and Christmas. Today I wrote my Christmas cards and raked up leaves in the garden so perhaps I have both autumn and Christmas.

Christmas is quiet also. We are a small family so very little shopping and present buying. We decorate the house very simply with holly and ivy and then the Christmas tree will be brought into the house on the weekend before Christmas. Sometimes I feel I miss out on the hustle and bustle of Christmas but on lovely quiet days like today, I'm glad we keep things simple.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

finished knitting - Icelandic cardigan

When I say finished.... it isn't completely finished as it needs buttons and buttonholes to be added but I'm still thinking about those.

This is the "top-down Icelandic sweater" from Craftsy. This is the first Craftsy course I have taken so I don't have anything to compare it with but I did feel that this course needed a little more attention to detail. Nothing too difficult for the experienced knitter but perhaps not so good for a beginner. There seemed to be very little feedback and answers to questions from the instructor and I notice now that the course description has been changed to student-led discussion only. This seems a shame although many of the comments of fellow students were very helpful.

I am mainly pleased with the end result. The short row shaping on the back below the yoke was a good technique to make the neckline sit better. I haven't done short row shaping before and the instructions were very clear.

The wool used is Lett Lopi, I chose a mid blue main colour and then orange and white as contrasts - Iceland is often described as the land of fire and ice so the colours seemed appropriate.

The steek was reinforced with a crochet edging. I was a little disappointed with this as to stop stretching the edge the crochet had to be done very tightly with a small crochet hook. This resulted in quite a firm edge which seemed a bit out of place on a soft, squashy wool garment but does give a neat finish.

I used a broken ribbing on both the body and sleeves.

Tomorrow, after work I am going into town to my knitting group so I shall look for suitable buttons. The button holes will be crochet loops so I'll do those after I have bought the buttons.

Then I will be prepared for the winter weather, these sweaters are designed to cope with winter in Iceland so I should be very warm and cosy here.

Ravelry notes here.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Autumn colour at Stourhead

This is likely to be the last autumn colour post this year. We have had a couple of frosts and the remaining leaves will be falling soon.

Last weekend we spent a few days in Devon to celebrate our Silver Wedding. On the way we stopped at Stourhead garden.

The weather was dull and I think we missed the peak of the autumn colour but it was still very beautiful.

It was one of those quiet days that you sometimes get at this time of year, almost as if everything pauses for a while as autumn slowly drifts into winter.

Such a peaceful place to spend some time.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Autumnal beech trees

At last, the pervading greyness of November has been replaced with a clear days. Cold nights followed by bright sunny days. I walked in the woods to the small area of beech trees. Most of the woods around the village are commercial plantations of pine but beech trees were planted along the boundary banks many years ago and so lines of beech trees can still be seen.

Yesterday the leaf colour was perfect, yellows

greens and browns,

sometimes all on the same tree.

So pleased that these beautiful trees were left to grow along the boundaries and roadsides

so that we can enjoy the spectacular show of colour

in the autumn sunshine.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


November is my least favourite month, grey, dark and decreasing daylight with each passing day. I'd really like to hibernate from October to March and miss out winter completely!

I haven't been taking many photographs and without photographs I don't post, the photographs always come first for me. I  have some finished (and almost finished) knitting to show so I am hoping for some bright photography friendly days.

Taking these photographs in my garden today focussed my attention on the colours and flowers that are still around, perhaps November isn't so grey and dull after all.

Friday, 25 October 2013


It has been windy this week. These are a few photographs I took on one of my walks, I wanted to capture the wind blowing through the leaves of the ash trees.

Friday, 11 October 2013


Time for a knitting update. The top down Icelandic Sweater is progressing very slowly mainly due to me knitting the sleeve for the third time. The first time I decreased too quickly to try to get rid of some of the bagginess at the top of the sleeve, the second time I followed the pattern exactly but then found I needed and extra three or four inches in length and it was still narrow. This third (and final!) time I am decreasing every 10th round instead of every 6th which should spread the decreases out and mean it doesn't get too narrow before it reaches my wrist.

I am still enjoying the knitting but am beginning to lose patience with sleeves.

Next a silk scarf that has been left for years in an almost finished state. I finally got round to finishing the last six inches and washed and blocked it. The very fine silk is soft which will be comfortable but I prefer the crisper look of blocked wool lace knitting.

Finally a skein drying on the line. I spun this from a small amount of Corriedale roving. The coulourway was spearmint. I am pleased with it and as I only have 100g think it is destined to become a scarf.

I must get back to the sweater now. I want to finish the sleeves by the time I go to my knitting group at the end of the month, I was knitting a sleeve last month and I want to feel I have made some progress!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

today's walk

I decided to take my camera out today and look for autumn colour. I started off well with this wonderful creeper growing over a brick wall which I have been admiring as I walk past it each day but once I left the village I realised that I was still a little early. There are signs of autumn but the hedges and trees are still green.

There is a feeling of autumn, with freshly ploughed fields,




holly berries

and wild crab apples.

This Michaelmas daisy has been growing in the bank for years. It must have escaped from a nearby garden and has spread to form an impressive clump.

Today it was full of bees.

Lastly, one tree that does seem to be putting on its autumn colours is the Horse Chestnut. I'll wait a couple more weeks to catch some more colour.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


A few years ago, autumn replaced spring as my preferred season, perhaps its something to do with getting older and October is my favourite autumnal month. September often still feels like summer and November can be wintry but October is pure autumn.

I like the soft gentleness of the light as the year quietly moves towards winter. Of course it isn't always quiet, I remember the Great Storm of 1987 which was far from quiet and caused so much devastation.

In the garden the cyclamen reliably flower at this time of year. The one below is amazing and has been covered with flowers for the last month.

Cyclamen seeds are catapulted out of the seed pod when it bursts and now I have many smaller plants surrounding the original.

Inside the giant colchicum is in flower. I will plant this in the garden when the flowers fade, the leaves will appear during the winter and it will flower again next year. The packet clearly stated that allowing it to flower indoors in the first year would not affect it flowering in future years but I did try this a few years ago and it seemed to disappear from the garden completely.

October is also the month for paperwhites. I used to plant these in a pot of compost but they tend to grow quite tall and collapse everywhere so for the last few years I have been growing them in an inch of compost at the bottom of a tall jar. The leaves and flower stems grow to 12 - 15 inches and will be supported by the jar without the need for staking.

I have hyacinth bulbs ready for planting but those will wait another couple of weeks so that they will flower in the New Year after the Christmas decorations come down. There is something very comforting about doing the same tasks at the same time each year and noticing each month as it passes.