Elderflower Heaven

Hello friends, I hope you are doing ok.

This month it’s all about appreciating what you have and what you can do rather than feeling down about what you can’t. This means still celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, births, weddings, or any other excuses for cake.

Nature in midsummer is doing its magical thing, even if some of our own plans are on hold. Bees and ladybirds are busy, flowers are blooming and there are strawberries to eat.

There are many things to forage and one of my favourites to make as spring turns to summer is Elderflower cordial. Such a quick and easy thing to make and totally delicious. Today I share with you how I make mine.

First find your hedgerow. Elderflowers burst forth in frothy posies from straggly tree-type bushes at this time of year and it’s easy to make Elderflower cordial for a little summer-in-a-glass.

Go out early on a dry sunny morning and carefully cut about 25 Elderflower heads. Lightly shake to ditch any insects but don’t wash the flowers, just trim off the stalks. Place the flower heads in a large pot with a lid.

Add the grated zest of 3 unwaxed Lemons and 1 Orange, set aside the juice. Boil 1.5 litres water and pour over the Elderflowers and Citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.

Strain the liquid through a piece of muslin until it runs clear of any sediments and pour into a large saucepan. Add a kilo of sugar and the juice from the lemons and the orange. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and gently cook for a few minutes.

Strain once more through a fresh piece of muslin and then pour into sterilised bottles and seal with lids. It will keep in the fridge for about 2 months.

Once cooled you can use. It is delicious when turned into a fizz: Just pour a small amount (about 2cm) into a glass, top up with sparkling water, add a couple of mint leaves and a slice of lime and enjoy this refreshing drink.

Enjoy, stay safe and well – until soon.

Heike xo

Confession of a Sock Knitter

My dear friends, how have you been? I hope you are all keeping well in these uncertain times, finding things to do that you love and having lot’s of ‘Me’ time too.

For me that usually involves knitting socks. I am not totally sure when this love of sock knitting started, but one of my earliest knitting memories is about socks and they are a true love of mine.

I just keep making socks. It’s just so much fun.

Especially during stressful and uncertain times they are my go-to project and I can’t seem to stop, chain-knitting my way from sock to sock, starting a new one just as soon as one is finished.

I just keep going and having a completely shameless Netflix binge helps no end, it’s almost like the sock-making reinforces the binge-watching, and vice versa. It also helps to have a large stash of sock yarn nearby, feeding my curiosity about what will happen with a skein of variegated or self-striping sock yarn.

Socks are super portable and the perfect small project to try out new stitch patterns. A simple sock is pretty straight forward to knit, not too difficult to learn and many have done so in my workshops following my trusted ‘Oma’s Sock’s’ pattern (here).

Family and friends are happy recipients of my cosy socks, with fifteen pairs of my knitted socks in hubby’s sock drawer alone and many more pairs having been gifted over the years.

Having knitted top-down socks only up to now, I wanted to spice things up a little and have started my first pair of toe-up socks. I only started last night but like it so far…

They won’t be done quite as quickly as I have to follow instructions, but with lock-down continuing I have plenty of time. Wish me luck!

Are you using this crazy time to learn something new? Please share, I’d love to know.

Stay safe my friends and remember to laugh, to sit in sunshine and dream, be kind and thoughtful and to be gentle and mindful with yourself.

Heartfelt wishes,

Heike xo

Friesland – a gansey shawl

The coastal path is closed, the car parks are closed – this is the current situation all around our coast lines.

Is your heart yearning to hear the sound of the waves, to walk along the shore, quietly just with your own thoughts?

Sea, sky and wind can free our minds, refresh with the salty lightness of the air and soothing uniformity of the waves. New horizons open up, perspectives for now and later.

In my memory I see the Sea in front of me, smooth as glass or agitated and angry. I see the endless expanse, smell the salty air, feel the wind in my hair and hear cheeky seagulls screech.

In all this uncertainty, one thing is certain: The Sea has always been there and will be there when the current situation has calmed down. The Sea teaches us to switch between chaos and order, between retreat and community.

The ebb and flow, the sea, sand and shore are here, doing what they do – All is quiet.

Today I want to introduce my latest shawl design – Friesland Shawl.

I designed this shawl to coincide with a knitting retreat hosted by my sister ( Buntes Schaf) on the German Island of Norderney before the world shut down due to Covid-19. Eleven knitters from Germany, Belgium and the UK got together for a few days, enjoying beautiful scenery, good food and knitting, broadening their knowledge on traditional Gansey/Fishermen patterns and their history.

We were so lucky to have this special time together before the world shut down. Feeling the wind in our hair, breathing in fresh salty air having a wonderful time with like minded souls learning about the rich history of these amazing patterns.

The shawl is knitted all in one piece from one tip to the other forming a long shallow triangle. A few stitches are cast on and then the body of the shawl is worked in a variety of traditional Gansey/Fishermen patterns found along the shores of the North Sea and Atlantic coasts. Increases on one side create a long triangular shape and a nifty slip stitch technique at the end of each row creates a neat I-cord edge. After the centre pattern is completed, decreases on one side edge shape the shawl into a long flat triangle.

This is a true homage to the rich history and variety of these patterns and has been a total pleasure and labour of love to create. The pattern is available in both English and German from my Ravelry and Lovecrafts stores.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can return and walk along a beach feeling the sand between our toes and the wind in our hair.

Stay safe my friends xo

The New Now

Hello friends, how are you all? Are you suffering Corona Blues just a little like me? Maybe, like me, you find it hard to motivate yourself on some days as every day seems to melt into the next and it’s easy to forget what day of the week it even is.

I find that keeping some sort of routine going helps. Getting up the same time each day as before, wearing a special outfit just for yourself and treating yourself to a bunch of spring flowers next time you are out shopping. Cooking your favourite food, or going for an extra scenic walk can do wonders for the soul and luckily here in North Wales the weather has been very kind to us in recent weeks.

Many of us are used to a set routine running through our weekdays, longing for the weekend when we can spend time with family or friends, going to restaurants or the cinema. All that has changed and we all have to find different, often smaller things to bring us joy.

I am still flitting between knitting projects and haven’t finished any of my ongoing projects. One sock and another started, lockdown blanket needs another 20-30cm and my Easy Livin’ jumper is waiting for sleeves.

Being surrounded by countryside definitely helps to blow the Corona cobwebs away and whenever I feel it’s all becoming too overwhelming to cope with, I put on my walking shoes and head outside to clear my head.

I am however already dreaming up plenty of new cast on’s, trying very hard not to get too distracted. I have set myself the goal of finishing one project before starting a new one.

A girl can dream though…!

Stay Safe and well! Until soon xo

Hello Spring (and a comfort blanket)

Can you smell it?

If you go outside, around the block or your daily walk (or run) in the park or forest, you can smell and feel it. Spring is finally here.

It blooms everywhere and smells deliciously of small spring blossoms and the warming earth. Little green leaves and buds are about to burst open everywhere. Nature takes its usual course, regardless of our current world turmoil and social circumstances.

It is a somehow comforting picture don’t you think?

The world seams to be both on pause and on hyperdrive, but my fingers are busy at their usual pace. 

Somehow I don’t seem to be able to concentrate long on one thing, instead flitting between projects and sometimes just tinkering. My knitting needles tick-tick-tick in rhythm as my hands move them through the dance of stitches that will become a jumper, socks or just samples. Everything is different around me, but this is the same. These fingers, this yarn, this movement.

The world is on pause, but not the clock and the days march forward. The calendar keeps turning pages as it waits for no one, it keeps on going, so I keep going too.

I put the kettle on and make another cup of tea. Connecting with my family and friends is often done in different, more creative ways and I never would have thought that seeing them on a screen could fill me with such joy.

I knit my worries into the yarn I hold because there’s nowhere else for them to go. I try and remember to keep laughing and finding positives, no matter how small they might be.

To help me through this difficult time I have started a blanket – I call it my lockdown blanket. Using one base colour (blue) and lots of random colours of yarn I have in my stash, simple garter stitch provides a soothing rhythm of tick – tick – tick .

In case you like this idea of meditation, here is the simple how to:

My Yarn is a combination of Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK (the base colour) and Rowan Wool Cotton (the random colours). I am using a 3.75mm long circular needle and cast on 200 stitches. Working in garter stitch throughout I alternate between the base and random colour every 2 rows, feeding the yarn up the side and start a new random colour when a complete ball is finished. To be completely random I do not choose the next colour but instead I just put my hand into the bag and pull the next ball out.

When finished the blanket will be approximately 95cm wide and 170cm long, a good size to snuggle under. However, you can make it any size you like by simply adding or subtracting stitches and rows.

Everything is different around me, but some things are the same: These hands and this yarn, and the clicking of my needles as I knit on. 

Until soon, stay safe and well xo.