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

 

 

 

 

 

 

baby camels and silk

This week I have been mostly frogging.  When you are knitting with lace-weight silk and baby camel hair yarn you don’t want mistakes.  Knitting with this yarn is like knitting with the dreams of baby fairies, it  makes cashmere feel like barbed wire and is quite frankly the stuff of which unicorn dreams are made.

camel and silk yarn

I’m sorry I can’t offer a touch and feel blog.  I’m sure that will be possible in time, meanwhile you will just have to take my word for it.  Or go to Dye Ninja and buy some for yourself.  Hand dyed bliss from Livingston.

I didn’t go to Livingston to get mine, I went to Inverness.  For my birthday the Boss took me to a lovely cosy cabin on the Beauly Firth and sent me to the Loch Ness Knit Fest.  Seriously, how good can a guy be at present buying?  Two of the daughters (Medic 1 and the Rock Geek) joined us as did a friend travelling home to Thurso from Ayrshire.  And of course Poppy came too.  She spent the week making friends, particularly on the train.  She is quite the seasoned train traveller now.

Poppy

LNKF was the bees knees.  It wasn’t huge, but every single stall was interesting and had something worth stopping for.  Lots of hand dyers (oh my the colours ….), spinners, unusual yarns (camel of course, but have you tried husky hair?)  But what really singled it out was the knitting hub.  It was big, it was comfortable with big tables and chairs and big squishy sofas and a splendid stage with live music, talks, demonstrations.  I sat and knitted and made lots of new friends from Denmark, from Birmingham, from the West Country.

It is a rather splendid fact that the best yarn festivals are held in places where the fishing is excellent.  Hence the enthusiasm of the Boss to join me at Shetland Wool Week, possibly the Iceland Wool Festival and maybe even Farnøstrik .  Lucky girl!

love gillie x

 

wrapping presents zero-waste style

wrapping zero waste

Well if not entirely zero-waste then certainly considerably less wasteful than the norm.  This is my wrapping station.  It contains:

  • Magazines
  • Ribbon carefully saved year after year
  • Pretty scarves
  • Empty boxes saved year after year
  • Pretty bags saved year after year
  • Paper sugar/flour bags
  • Paper wrapping from Who Gives A Crap loo and kitchen paper
  • Gift tags made from old cards
  • Endless cups of tea!

To be fair I have been wrapping along these lines since I was a child.  I was trained  young to save the wrapping paper and ribbon and it was a family tradition to cut up the Christmas cards in January and reuse them as gift tags.  The collection of boxes and bags are thanks to the Boss who can’t stand wrapping and has always packaged presents the easy way!

One year I wrapped everything in brown paper and red ribbon.  I still have the ribbon and the last of the brown paper was used to send parcels to Bea while she was in Thailand last year.  But this year I have decided to go one step further.

Using magazines can be a bit of a challenge for larger presents as you have to use several sheets together.  Garden and lifestyle magazines are good sources of pretty photos.  Although do watch out – I wrapped one present in a picture of a sumptuous Christmas dinner – only to remember the recipient is vegetarian and probably wouldn’t appreciate the turkey and all the trimmings around their gift!

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This is the first year I have used fabric.  I sent the Boss down to the charity shop in search of pretty scarves.  It took a bit of practice and I am sure the Japanese experts are not too impressed with my Furoshiki but I’m pretty pleased with myself.

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I have spotted some elderly shooting stockings and kilt socks that I think might make some rather lovely bottle carriers too!

Love Gillie x

ladies in stitches

Every other Tuesday I get together with five other friends for a day of stitching, knitting, crochet and general chat.  We egg each other on with unfinished projects, teach each other new skills and put the world to rights over a mug of tea and a bowl of soup.  Today I was hosting.  It was perhaps not the ideal day for me to chose as the builders had come over to catch up on a few snagging jobs, our fabulous duo of cleaning ladies were wielding their magic and a massive translation job came in….

However, now that I have my own little studio we took our tray of tea and date and walnut loaf and left them to it.  I had intended to get on with the cardigan I am making my mother for Christmas, but on the grounds that I knit every evening I thought I could better use my time catching up on the unfinished bits and bobs.  Two hop pillows and eight lavender bags (using our own hops and lavender no less) it was time for my fellow ladies in stitches to head home.  But I was on a roll, I cast my eye around for something to do.

When we lived in the north of Scotland I accumulated a lot of tweed.  Not a little tweed, a LOT of tweed.  Enough tweed to, well let’s just say come the apocalypse we won’t be cold in our little hobbit hole.  There was one particular off cut from a suit that the Boss had made that was deliciously soft and had been winking at me for a while.

Et voila two cushions and a dinky little tea cosy for the tea pot for one that is currently without a cosy2017-11-21 17.09.53

All in all I reckon it took me about half an hour to make all three.  Dead easy,  I promise.

First cut a strip of material at least two and three quarter times as long as your cushion and wide enough to drape over the cushion to the tension you wish (ie do you want a loose or tight cover) plus a generous 3/4″ to 1″ seam allowance..

Hem the two short ends and wrap around the cushion.

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Mark with the pin where you want to run the side seams.  Remove the cushion, pin and sew side seams.  Turn right side out and the proverbial Bob is your uncle.

As for the tea cosy.  Two arcs of tweed, two arcs of liner (I used soft brushed cotton, an old sheet) and two arcs of interlining (you want to keep your tea warm after all don’t you?)  Make the tweed two inches longer at the bottom along the straight edge.

Sew tweed – interlining – lining together in that order and turn up the two inches of extra tweed at the bottom for a hem.  Repeat for the other side.  Turn right side to right side and sew two sides together.  Cut excess hem along the curved edge and turn right side out.  Bob’s your other uncle!

Love Gillie x

manky tomatoes

The tomato harvest has finally come to an end.  We mostly grow cherry toms and on clearing out the greenhouse we were left with a bowl of rather mixed and manky looking tomatoes.  On the basis that we, the humans, get first dibs before the chooks the sad looking collection was transformed into bottled roasted tomatoes.

 

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Place the tomatoes on a roasting tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil.  Place in a very low oven (50 C or less or the bottom of the Aga) for at least 8 hours or overnight.  This really is where the Aga comes into its own.  Check on them every now and then after about 8 hours and when they are dark, soft and almost caramel like pop into a sterilised jar and cover with olive oil.

Perfect as the basis for a tomato pasta sauce.

Love Gillie x