“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.”
The weather is still unseasonably mild here in North Wales and so far we have not had any frost. The leaves are turning and when I look out from the window in my studio, all I see is an abundance of colour. This is my favourite time of year.
The days are getting shorter and many of us will light our first fires of the year. This is a perfect time to just walk and enjoy some fresh air, wrap up in your favourite knitwear and stride out. It is also the season to start comfort eating: Bake a cake, make a hot drink and get settled curling up on the sofa with your knitting or a good book.
Tidying my studio the other day I came across a few started sock projects, and as it is #socktober I decided to make every effort and finish some. They will come in handy as Christmas presents for some special people in my life.
In my view, any excuse for cosiness should be grabbed and the sound of rain on the windows and wind in the trees make for the perfect time enjoying some extra sensory moments to tune in and focus on the world around you instead of hurrying around on autopilot.
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.
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.
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.
I cannot remember seeing the sky above my house so uninterruptedly blue without a single perforating condensing stripe to be seen.
Everything so quiet, as if someone pressed the pause button. All seems peaceful and beautiful.
Inside of me…Hope – Fear – Courage – Despair – Serenity – Anger – Longing -Unsettlement – Laziness and Uncertainty for the future.
And waiting… for what exactly? I am not sure. To be in charge of almost nothing, but instead following guidelines and instructions doesn’t come so easy.
I know we are all in this together and we all have our own ways to deal with this situation. Some take it as complete normality, some feel the need to be super informed at all times and some need to talk or write about it. The Corona Virus effects all our souls in different ways and not the same every day.
Let’s be tolerant with one another. Let’s smile at one another as we pass each other during our daily walks or in supermarkets at the suggested distance. A simple smile means so much!