Sunday, 29 April 2012

Chalk Cottage Knitting is back

I'm quite interested in the vintage look of the colours in these wallflowers
Chalk Cottage Knitting is back.  I installed Google Chrome and so far so good.  It took me a while to pluck up the nerve to do it.  Thank you to everyone for your lovely comments on loss of knitting mojo I mentioned in my previous post.  Not quite got it back, I'm afraid and may try a little crochet.

We're having some weather here today and the wallflowers which had blossomed out a lot more since this picture are taking a terrible beating. The tulips are battered as well.  Oddly, the yellow ones seem to be standing up well, but the pink and red are all gone.

It's the end of what's known as Blackthorn Winter and the tulips get knocked about every year.  March can be deceptively kind, the blackthorn flowers come out and in comes April with lots of rain (which we really needed). Soon it will be May, the hawthorn will be out in full and everything will calm down.

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I'm struggling with the new Blogger setup.  Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can figure out what's happening.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Struggling to Knit, but still love the patterns

Good Needlework Magazine - June 1940
Owing to an inability to relax right now I am having trouble sitting down to knit.  I think it may be a seasonal thing and will pass.  However, I'm still enjoying looking at the patterns.  This magazine is among my vintage collection and I am rather taken with the sweater on the right. 

And guess what, the pattern goes up to a size 38.  Might be worth a shot.  Maybe this is the thing to get me back on my needles.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

On top of Sidbury Hill, from inside the ramparts looking out across Salisbury Plain
Out walking on Friday 13th April.  Delighted to see in the woodland several Speckled Wood Butterflies.  Unfortunately they were not obliging enough to pose for the camera.  It was a warm sunny day and they danced through the dappled shade, but as soon as a cloud came over and it got a little chillier they took cover.
See the Speckled Wood on the UK Butterflies website

The hill is sprinkled with violets and white blossom of blackthorn and out on the lower slopes in an arid chalky patch of ground I found this little treasure.

This time the books aren't helping me.  I haven't been able to identify this yet.  Maybe a Storksbill?

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Lost my Knitting Mojo

A bit of garden
Lost my knitting mojo.  In fact I've lost mojo on several fronts.  Nothing like a bit of garden to cheer one up.

Friday, 13 April 2012

The Green and the White

Flowers of the Norway Maple
Because the flowers of the Norway Maple are usually up high, I hadn't really appreciated them before.  I only saw these because a branch had fallen and was still merrily flowering away.  This is a non-native tree in Britain and can tend to be invasive casting a dense shadow, shutting out native plants and flowers and reducing the diversity of the habitat.  In spite of all that it's now well out in flower and the bright green on the skyline is quite welcome.

Wild Cherry 
According to the Woodland Trust other names for Wild Cherry are :
  • Idath (Old Irish)
  • Crab Cherry
  • Hawkberry
  • Mazzard
  • Merry
  • Gean
White (or off-white) and green being one of my favourite colour combinations, I couldn't resist using this little bit of wild inspiration to try out another slip stitch for my collection.
Dotted Ladder Pattern
From Barbara G. Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Orange Tip Butterfly at the end of March

Orange Tip Butterfly on Aubretia
The Orange Tip Butterfly is my favourite because it comes to us in English gardens on the good days in March when we know there will  be more dreary weather, but we can enjoy the moment.

In the picture above you can clearly see the markings on the tip of the wing and catch a glimpse of the mottled dark green and cream under wing.

Full face portrait
This one modelled very patiently while I lurked about with my camera and seemed to particularly enjoy the aubretia which I have learned is a very important plant to have in a wildlife garden, providing nectar for the early insects.  I'll definitely sow more this year.

I have targeted myself in 2012 to take six photographs that I am really pleased with and the full face portrait of the Orange Tip is the first of the six.  I'm quite pleased with the level of detail I managed to capture with my funny little camera.  I took several fuzzy Orange Tip photos, but that one is clear and clean.

So now that we have the grey days of April I can look back on these photos and really enjoy them.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter

Bunny Playmates from 'Mother' Magazine
April 1940
Grey skies and drizzle here for Easter and although the garden is doing well, it's not conducive to a flowery photograph, so I found these Easter bunnies instead. 

The caption reads :

"Simple applique makes gay coats for Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny - and the quickest stitches will send them capering on Baby's bath screen, play rug or cushion.

The rabbits' coats and the flowers growing in their playing fiield are cut from gay coloured felts, neatly hemmed on the design.  If you prefer you can make them from colourful scraps from your piece bag and applique them with matching buttonhole stitching."

Friday, 6 April 2012

Obsessed with the Stash

Detail from a 19th century child's jacket - Ukrainian.  Torchon lace at the cuffs
Seen in the embroidery collection at the V&A - posted randomly here because I like it
I have become obsessed with the stash.  I have an embargo on buying and so have spent hours trawling through my patterns, (I won't allow myself to trawl Ravelry right now - that way madness lies).  Trying to match inappropriate old patterns to equally inappropriate yarns in the stash.  Extremely frustrating.  Not quite enough yarn for this, right colour for that but in the wrong weight. 

I had in my mind's eye a little vintage looking cardigan (for which I thought I had a pattern that would fit, but can't find it) in an early summery colour - not a lot of that in stash.    So, the things I have managed to find are none of the above, but might help use something up.  They are :
  • A rather nice mohair cardigan that should swatch up ok in some dark blue Sublime Kid Mohair.  I have masses of it and can't remember why.
  • A favourite sleeveless top pattern which miraculously will work for some dusky pink Silky Look DK given to me by my sister when she ran out of inspiration.  Colour is on trend this year and although I am not a pink person, I can get away with a dusky one.
  • A couple of cotton tops to use up the remains of my disastrous cotton buying phase.  One of these - a two colour pattern will need to be seriously adulterated to get the look I want without running out of the colours.
Now, why do I fiddle about like this?  It's very odd, but I think it's like a puzzle for me.  I just like to sit and figure it out.  It's noon on my day off and I'm still in my jammies.  I have been puzzling away at the stash for nearly five hours.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Last Day of March

Wild violets clinging to the edge of a tank track on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
I took a walk on the last day of March.  We've had some wonderful weather and the world looks good.  The violets surprised me, so rough were the conditions for them at the dried out edge of a scumbly rock hard tank track.  (Scumbly is a word I just made up). 

My grandmother Violet Ann celebrated her birthday in the early spring and mum tells of how she and her brothers and sisters would walk out across their Dorset farm to a spot where masses of wild violets grew on a shady bank.  They would pick a bunch to take back for Nana's birthday present.

I remember the place where I grew up in Hampshire and the long lane bordered by ancient hedgerows, darkened by overhanging trees, dappled here and there with a little bit of sun where each year we saw the patches of violets, white ones among them.  Every year it was new all over again and precious.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Some quite difficult reading

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

I avoided the recent television adaptation and went for the book.  An extraordinary book about a man you feel you can never quite get the measure of.  A book about the intensity of  forbidden sex, but ultimate failure to make an emotional connection that can bind the Stephen to the person he loves so passionately.  The passages that will stay most vividly in my memory and where it seems Stephen is most alive are those describing the horror of life and the waste of lives in the trenches of World War I.

Pity The Nation by Robert Fisk

Published in 1990 about the war in Lebanon in the 1980s.  I have had this book for years and should have read it back then.  A big, distressing book.  The saddest thing of all - nothing changes.