Knit Love

I dedicated this year to improving my skills in making. I wanted 2016 to be The Maker's Year and so far I think I've done pretty well. I've improved a lot of my existing skills and grown more confident in trying out new things (have you seen my wreath obsession? It is out of control). However between you and me, my one true love will always be knitting. 

knitting flat lay

It's that time of year when I start to receive messages from others who don't normally knit but have dug out some yarn they meant use to make a sweater for their child. I see knitting appearing in my timeline with increasing regularity. I smile knowing why: the cold and need to nuzzle, clothe and protect ourselves and our little ones. For me though, knitting is a constant low rumble of need deep in my belly. I see a world where we can create things from beautiful natural resources and I wish I could knit faster. 

That's why this Autumn I have cast on my New Favourite Project. It started with an introduction to Ioana of Moeke Yarns, our sponsor for this month's #wipsandblooms join in on Instagram. As we spoke, we chatted about her passion for making and before long 4 skeins were whispering their magic to me and I knew what I wanted to knit. 

Moeke yarns

Each morning I wake hours before my slumbering tot. I creep downstairs in the dark, flip on the kettle and start the familiar whir of my laptop. It's time to work again. Sat at our farm table, a soothing brew by my side, I type as dawn breaks, pouring all the first energy of the day into writing. These early starts are increasingly cold and I long for a shawl to pull around me and perhaps become the companion I need in those dark hours of creative solitude. 

These four skeins have begun their journey to be just that project: The Comfort of Lines shawl designed by Melissa Schaschwary. It was a magical moment as I scooped the skeins out of the box Ioana kindly sent to me; I felt an instant connection to a story and a crafter far across a sea that understood the tactile joy that comes from a yarn with character. It would be easy to fall into cliches about rustic glory but there's a depth and crunch to this yarn that is utterly charming. The nature of its plies means that as a fabric, the stitches won't sit smooth and uniform but twist a little, give a little and tell a little of the sheep from which the wool came. 

Moeke Yarns on the needles

Moeke Yarns are produced from Romanian wool, with traditional methods and no harmful chemicals, spun in a traditional fiber mill and dyed using plants. My skeins are Elena, a 100% Romanian half-bred Tigaie wool and Heritage, a blend of the Tigaie and Romanian produced merino. Their undyed colour is partly why those skeins spoke so strongly to me that day. Emptied onto my marked and dented farm table, I smiled, feeling a connection to something I understood. Living life bestows marks, wrinkles, nubs and bumps. I was  utterly charmed and haven't been disappointed on the needles. This has become a project I linger over, smiling as my fingers find little specks of straw, a slightly thicker ply and watching the fabric shift and change with these little details. 

So while I work at my desk, shivering a little each morning, I smile too, thinking of the big shawl to come. I will clothe myself in a material that has already weathered winters out on Romanian pasture and I will know that it won't be just my cooling tea bringing me comfort soon, it will be wool. 

This sponsored blog post is brought to you in collaboration with Moeke Yarns. Skeins were recieved for review purposes. Views expressed here are my own

Summer Report, Part B

There it is, our first Summer holiday, done. Little One is tucked up for the night claiming she will never enjoy preschool, has no friends whatsoever and wants to stay at home with me forever. By the end of the week, I know she'll run in without so much as a backwards glance for those slow mornings that have become a habit these past 6 weeks. Another year turns and she's getting bigger all the time. I'm learning to accept it but it's not easy that's for sure. 

We had our first big camp kind of week: a full week of ballet culminating in a performance. As you can imagine I survived this well and did not blub the whole way through. 

ballet

I'm lying, I cried like a child who had their lolly swiped by the mean kid in the playground. 

 

We also attended a fair few village fetes. My favourite by far included a a little parade of trestle tables groaning under the weight of preserves, homemade cakes and a sort of 'pop up' greengrocers created by pulling together everyone's produce. Of course I refrained from exposing my newly transplanted status and didn't call it a pop up. Had I revealed that I was in fact a softy South Londoner infiltrating the rustic idyll, they'd never have told me where the good sloes are to be picked come Autumn. Instead, I did my part and exclaimed in delight at the scales and bunting. There is a code. We observe it and are rewarded in jam ingredients. I'm ok with this. 

produce
scales

Also, when did we stop including good but simple competitive games at fun fairs? The coconut shy was possibly the best fun we'd had in ages and the 3 legged races only resulted in a few broken limbs. What's a broken limb between village rivals? I'm in favour of bringing back hand cranked carousels and tombolas where all you really want is the questionable bottle of wine. 

coconut shy

Somewhere in between eating too much jam I did a lot of knitting. I even finished a hat AND scarf ready for the chillier morning dashes to preschool that I can see coming right round the corner. I had the pleasure of shooting for Purl Alpaca at a recent workshop they hosted and was kindly sent back to the coast with a kit to make the gorgeous set pictured below. Purl Alpaca is a pure field to fashion story: from the alpacas they breed to the designs they work in their exquisitely soft yarns. The fact they leave the wool undyed and let the natural beauty of the fibre do the talking is possibly my favourite thing but it might also be that I got to skritch an alpaca and thank it personally for the yarn. That's always going to be a winner, right?

Pattern:  Charlie & Adie , Yarn: ' Dew '

Pattern: Charlie & Adie, Yarn: 'Dew'

Also can we talk about the fact that dress fit just before Summer?? 

 

So I return to work eager to create again after a break to recharge and reflect. It doesn't mean my heart  doesn't pull at the thought of tomorrow morning at the door of the preschool as her little hand tightens around mine nervously. I'll be doing my best to shoo her in and then it all starts again, another year's cycle. 

 

Are you ready? If you are, can you tell me your secret please?

 

The First Lambing

Do you know what I've decided is the perfect end to an emotional day?

Lambs.....

lamb

Since relocating from the big city to Dorset, Little One and I have been enjoying so many precious moments together. We've grown accustomed to watching the sides of the road carefully for deer and pheasants. We've learned which days will distract us entirely with their big skies that go on forever. Owls keep us awake and we don't mind one bit. 

It's been a shift that I'm so grateful for. Relocating into a new area during Winter could have been incredibly bleak but noting the changes that are coming with each month has been fascinating. The Gorse in flower with its cheerful pop of yellow against a vast stretch of winter barren land is currently one of my favourite sights but this week, something topped all of that. 

One of the biggest shifts in measuring time is learning the activity of neighbouring farms. Our friends just started their first round of lambing. Tucked inside sheds and away from the cold that's rolled in this month, their Dorset Cross ewes began this year's round of lambs.

ewe and lambs

It's a humbling moment to watch a Ewe deliver a lamb onto the straw and nibble away the sack that once was so essential for it to thrive inside of her. Within the hour the lamb is wobbling its first shaky steps and thus begins a new journey for the little sweet thing.

Little One watched  the whole process thoughtfully. There were lots of questions about mummies tummies and milk. We shared a cuddle as I explained how the lambs need mother's milk just as she once did and she placed her little hand on my neck in a silent shared moment of remembering. Thumb in, she kept her hand there for some time while she watched a little lamb grow in strength enough to take its first feed. It had been an incredibly tiring day for me and suddenly there was this moment and I found myself holding my breath, not daring to breathe out in case it moved on. 

lamb
Dorset Cross Ewe
lamb

The shed was strangely peacefully despite lambs being born regularly. One decided to make its entrance backwards and was swiftly assisted but otherwise the ewes delivered independently with just a watchful eye of the skilled Shepherdess. The Dorset Cross lamb earlier in the year than the farm's other breeds and tend to have twins but occasionally triplets. The farm foster multiples on to other ewes to make sure that both mother and baby thrive with enough milk. Those that can't be fostered will be reared by hand which meant there was time for a little cuddle and bottle feed that utterly delighted both myself and Little One.

ewe and lambs

It's a strange thing to switch from the fast paced frenzy of submission deadlines, article pitches and the emails to the quiet shed full of sheep. Somehow though it feels like this was how it was always meant to be. I'll take the whirl of creativity mixed with life's most humbling moments anytime. I've been smiling all week. 

 

A Solstice Day

Exiting your home with a three year old is rarely graceful. After a morning tucked contentedly inside, sipping tea (me), learning new puzzles (her) and making food to share with friends, we prepared to greet the first Winter's Day. Within the usual flurry of coats, bags and 15 reminders for her to use the bathroom, I glanced out the window for a weather check. The trees bent sideways and confirmed that today was all about hand knit sweaters. 

Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits, yarn from Lioness Arts. (Project notes  here )

Antler Cardigan by Tin Can Knits, yarn from Lioness Arts. (Project notes here)

Tucked into waterproofs and puddle stomping boots, Little One ran gleefully across the grass to meet her friend and together they danced and laughed at the ferocious wind. Two protective mothers tied hats around little ears and I was glad for her woolen cardigan as she raced off to explore. 

Antler Cardigan. Pattern via TIn Can Knits (more details  here )

Antler Cardigan. Pattern via TIn Can Knits (more details here)

I finished this cardigan a while ago but haven't slowed down enough to take pictures lately. In fact, I'd not brought my much loved Nikon out of its camera bag since we moved over a month ago. I would be willing to lay money that this has been a contributing factor in my feeling antsy and unable to create lately. 

Today though, today was a good day for collecting stones and hurling them at the little stream nearby. This cardigan not only kept her warm but survived rolling in damp grass and a sudden downpour that came at us sideways thanks to the wind and sent us scurrying inside for pasta and cake. I will always be in complete awe at the powerful resource wool provides. 


I've included all the project notes of my version of Tin Can Knit's Antler Cardigan here on Ravelry. Yarn is via Lioness Arts



Hello From The Other Side

A few months ago I fell madly, deeply in love. 

The Isle of Purbeck

Armed with cameras and a tent, my friend and I took ourselves off for a creative retreat that changed my life forever. You can prepare for lots of things on a trip away but life changing love isn't one of them.

 (Photo by Clare Devine)

 (Photo by Clare Devine)

Tucked into the Dorset coastline I found myself desperate to escape London. This wasn't a new feeling. I'd been feeling smothered by the noise, the smell and taste of my city for such a long time. I found the fast pace stifling and the seriousness with which everything was treated just made me crave my knitting basket and a good audio book. I wasn't enjoying London and suddenly in that weekend was another life, a life full of possibility and joy. 

I tried to make other options work and I tried hard to bury the craving for big open skies and vast coastal walks. I heard the call of the sea and listened, hoping it wasn't going to make me wild with need. Yet every few weeks I found myself jumping in a car and travelling down to breathe it all in. Then something amazing happened: I found a cottage. Or rather, someone found me, saw my need and offered me a route in. 

Overnight everything changed and I started putting in place the things that needed to happen to take my daughter and I from a gritty city post code to a thatched home tucked into a my beloved coastline. Our cottage won't be ready until early Summer but I knew my path so in the last month I found a temporary place, canceled  the alternative relocation plans and enrolled Little One in a preschool she can thrive in. 

Decisions that involve massive change are never easy and yet somehow, this one burst from within me. I needed it. I needed to feel the land sweep away to join vast open skies and I needed to tell my stories to the sea everyday. I knew I was on the right path despite the overwhelming pressure not to make a mistake that comes from having a young daughter who you are raising on your own. 

So the reason there's been no podcast and very limited blogging is because I've jumped and have been focusing on getting us settled. I've landed and I can honestly say, I have no regrets. Right now a storm is making the power flicker and the internet speed is patchy as hell but you know what? I'm going to make it work. 

Sometimes the rewards are greater than the fear of the jump. 

Lulworth Cove

Sometimes you thank your lucky stars that you're a risk taker. 

I'm not too sure what lies ahead at this point. I'll still be snapping, writing and providing business support. I'll play around with the podcast soon and see how things upload. I'll blog, I'm sure  of it because it feels good to record this change. 

Bear with me. Love is an overwhelming feeling. And I'm so very glad to feel it.