making room

I love the period between Christmas and New Year.  I am fortunate enough to be able to spend that week gently chilling at home.  After the hustle and bustle of the preparations for the festive season I enjoy the sameness about each day and forgetting which day of the week it is.  Many years ago when the girls were still at home we had a huge blackboard (about 3 x 2 ft) in the kitchen upon which we wrote shopping lists, messages etc.  After I we had eaten Christmas lunch I would ceremoniously wipe the board clean and write in capital letters “MUMMY’S DAY OFF – FOOD IN THE FRIDGE!”

I don’t need to put the message out quite so clearly now, but the message is the same.  For the next day or so meals are assemblies of existing preparations, Mummy is going to knit/read/walk/watch old movies.  Because I am more still, there is less running around, I have time to have a closer look at my surroundings and notice how they have changed over the year.  What has gone, but more often, what has crept in.  Time for a whizz round.  Not a deep declutter of the kind that takes a couple of weeks at least, but a focus on one or two areas where accumulation has taken on epic proportions.

A few years ago whilst I was visiting my father in the States the girls and the Boss arranged for some beautiful waxed pitch pine shelves and bookcases to be built in the the sitting room as a Mothering Sunday present.  Because of the weird shape and history of our house (the original dates back to the 13th Century and bits have been added on all over the place over the years) we have a lot of doors and a lack of window sills and wall space for shelves.  For the first time ever I was able to display some of my precious carvings, silverware and photographs.  Books could come out of the dark and DVDs and CDs no longer made tall skyscraper skylines behind sofas and chairs.

However, as we all know, stuff expands to fill an empty space and as I was curled up with my knitting last night I knew that the DVDs and books in one corner of the sitting room just had to be cleared.

Two bin bags later it looks like this.  Not exactly minimalist (there was some discussion over some of the DVDs – they are now on a secret watch list and may yet have only a short time left in the house!), but there is now order and some space.

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Why not give a small corner a quick makeover, you won’t believe how much better it makes you feel.

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If you are struggling to decide what should stay and what should go, then turn to William Morris, he always has the answer;

“If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Love Gillie x

feeling festive in Riga

 

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The shops are not full of images of Father Christmas, the cafes and restaurants are not heaving with fairy lights.  Yet Riga feels a lot more festive than most cities in Western Europe.  Yes it does help that is is cold and everyone is wrapped up in big coats with fluffy hoods, that there is snow on the ground and there is a whopping great Christmas Tree in the square next to our hotel, but there is more too it than that.

We attended the lighting of the tree ceremony on Sunday.  As it was obviously all in Latvian we didn’t understand a word, except for the countdown.  I think that is universal.  There was no need for barriers, I think I saw two policemen, the small square was full of people enjoying the Christmas market, drinking Black Balsalm or hot chocolate and enjoying browsing the stalls.  There was no brash commercialism, just people having fun.

Before

 

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and after.

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Also, did you know that the first ever Christmas tree was from Riga?

I am feeling festive in Riga because there is no loud Christmas music blaring out of every shop, there are no plastic Father Christmases, no tinsel on every till.  Just a beautiful tree, a lovely market and other people feeling festive.

love Gillie x

 

 

hats

On my return from Loch Ness Knit Fest in October, I showed the Boss my purchases.  Yes, all my purchases!  One of them was this gorgeous little number from Tine and Floyd.

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The Boss took a shine to it and suggested it would make a fine hat.  In particular it would make a fine hat with ear flaps.  A fine hat with ear flaps that would be perfect to keep his head and ears warm whilst out fishing.   Since the wind off the North Sea is pretty piercing if you are on land I can only assume it is vicious when out at sea.

So I disappeared down the rabbit hole that is Ravelry and found this wonderful pattern by Mitzy Moore

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Obviously I am doing it in one colour way, but after a month or so of lacework I am loving the speed with which it knits up!  I’m not sure about the bobble though.  Not quite his style I don’t think!

What’s on your needles today?

Love Gillie x

 

 

lacework


It was  many years before I was brave enough to try lace work.  I will never forget going to a workshop at the wonderful WhistlebareYarns and after we had chosen our yarn and settled down I saw a line that could have been written in Arabic for all I understood it.  I panicked.  I looked at the women around me who were all happily clicking away.  And then I got to the dreaded line, it was line 9 I can remember it well.

My heart headed south faster than a swallow in autumn.  But do you know what it was dead easy!  Just follow the instructions and keep knitting.  It does help to  have pencil and paper to record where you are up to.  I rather like these as well.

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Also if you are easily distracted, don’t do the lace row when you are watching television or people are trying to talk to you.  It is the Devil’s own job to frog a lace row!

When people look at lacework so many of them take a deep in breath and declaim they couldn’t possibly do that.  But in all honesty all lacework is is a planned pattern of holes!  I think we can all put our hand on our hearts and say we can make holes in knitting.  If you can knit, purl and wind yarn around a needle you can do lacework!

This is my work in progress using the silk and baby camel hair (just writing that makes me go all gooey) I bought from Dye Ninjaat Loch Ness Knit Fest.  The pattern is Rogue Wrap by Helen Dillon (available on Ravelry) and is a doddle to knit, particularly when using such gorgeous yarn.

Only a short post today as the weather is awful and it feels like a knitting kind of day!

Love Gillie x

P.S.  Don’t worry if you lacework looks like a dishrag!  All lacework looks like a dishrag until it is blocked (well mine does!).

autumn

 

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The colour of the light in the early morning and last of the windfalls feeding the pheasants who have taken up residence in our orchard remind me that autumn is coming to an end and it will soon be time to prepare for winter.

The changing seasons bring up all sorts of different emotions in me.  During the long hot summer this year I wanted it to go on forever.  I wanted to be able to get up and fling on a sundress and flipflops every day and dreaded the mornings when I would have to think about what to wear because I would need woolly tights, cardigans, I would have to think about coats and scarves.  There would be the usual marital grumbling about whose turn it was to bring in the wood and empty the grate so we could light the fire.

Autumn arrived gently, warm days lasting longer than expected and gradually interspersed with shorter colder ones.  Fortunately there have been few grey days; I think it is the lack of colour that gets me down in the winter.  The harvest was truly bountiful, my preserving pans, dehydrator and pickle and fermentation jars went into overdrive.  I have put down my light cotton crochet and picked up my soft winter knitting.  Our meals are heartier and warmer, the Christmas cookbooks have come out and I reread Making Winter and The Christmas Chronicles.  It is time to dig out The Box of Delights.

I am ready now.

Love Gillie x

 

remembrance

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Brancepeth Village War Memorial 11 November 2018

 

At 10.59 on the 11th November 1918 Henry Nicholas John Gunther an American serviceman died when attacking a German machine gun post in an attempt to regain his rank of Sergeant after being demoted to Private after writing home about the conditions in the trenches.  He died, one minute before the Armistice was declared, some 5 hours after it was agreed in a train carriage in Picardy.

However his was not the last death as a result of the First World War, many civilians and combatants continued to die as a result of their wounds both physical and mental for many years.  And the seeds of the next World War were sown in that carriage.

Whilst we remember, and continue to remember those who died in conflict perhaps we can find in our own hearts some tiny thing, some tiny action or intention that helps pave the way, however small and apparently insignificant to a world of peace.

I learned this song from an album my father often use to play,  More Folk at the Phil by The Spinners.  It was written by Pete Seeger and I have never forgotten it.

 

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d ever dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war

I dreamed I saw a mighty room
Filled with women and men
And the paper they were signing said
They’d never fight again

And when the paper was all signed
And a million copies made
They all joined hands and bowed their heads
And grateful prayers were prayed

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing ’round and ’round
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground

Last night I had the strangest dream
I’d never dreamed before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

You can hear that same recording from the Liverpool Phil here.

Love Gillie x

 

 

 

goddesses

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In between getting my head down and concentrating on a lacework shawl and trying very hard not to drop any stitches because they are a right pain to try and pick up again in lacework, I have been playing with goddesses.

The Boss and I go to a pottery group every Wednesday and deciding that we now had enough platters and bowls I started to play around with sculptures.  We then had plenty of animals and vases.  So after our trip to Malta this summer where we saw some of the most amazing early goddess statues I decided to have a go at making my own.

The one at the top is based on an actual sculpture in Malta and was my first attempt.  When I was making the hips and feet a fellow potter looked over my shoulder and asked if I was making an armadillo!  I would have preferred to have given her bigger hips but it didn’t work out right.  Better luck next time maybe.  However, she is a nice size that fits comfortably in my hand and often travels around with me.

Next up was more of a wall hanging goddess.

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She is about 10″ tall and I am very fond of her.

I love walking the labyrinth and am still working on the Boss as I want to create one in the meadow.  Meanwhile I thought I would have a go at making a finger labyrinth for my table.  I love the goddess but am no so keen on the glaze.

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Finally I made a meditation yoni.  I have a friend who makes the most beautiful yonis out of parian porcelain.  She made one for me which I carved and glazed.  I decided to have a go at making my own.  I am very pleased with this one, it’s the perfect size to fit in my hands as a meditation tool.

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Whilst the clays were going in and out of the kiln I thought I would have a go at goddess interpretation with textiles.  I loved the colours in this one,  my sea goddess.

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This lady is still a work in progress, dark evenings are perfect for playing with embellishments in front of the fire!

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Now I think I need to get on with that lacework!

Love Gillie x