Guernsey Style knitting

It’s ages since I did any serious knitting, in fact I’ve done very little in the way of crafting since we moved house almost three years ago. So I decided to get stuck into some knitting – a jumper for Jack, and if you think that the word jumper is weird and unknown to you, it’s also known as a sweater or jersey, presumably that word jersey is originally from the Channel Island of that name, just as Guernsey or gansy as they are sometimes known – is.

Knitting

I think this knitting pattern is called Guernsey style because ‘real’ Guernseys are knitted using a circular needle, that’s something I’ve never used so I was happy to tackle this one which uses the two needle method.

Well, I say happy but to tell the truth I was a wee bit daunted by the pattern because it is set over twenty-four rows and I wasn’t at all sure that I would have the concentration to tackle that, but it turned out to be fairly easy to do. I’m quite pleased with it so far, but I’m not really looking forward to knitting the sleeves, keeping the pattern right at the same time as increasing the stitches might be a wee bit tricky!

Spring garden in Fife, Scotland

It seemed like Spring arrived early this year with everything beginning to bloom sooner than expected. Well it has mainly been a very mild winter with very little in the way of snow, and what we did get melted very quickly.

crocuses

The crocuses above are multiplying each year, but they only look their best when the sun is shining on them. Typically we got the heaviest of snow after everything began to flower and I thought that the delicate snowdrops, aconites and primulas would be flattened, but they’re not as fragile as they look.
snowdrops

When warmish weather appeared after that I had intended to get stuck into the garden and clear away the winter debris, but suddenly the wind seemed to be coming from Siberia again and it was just too cold to brave it. I can’t wait to start gardening again though.

The winter aconites below are already seeding themslves around the garden, I always feel so lucky when that happens, flowers for free, just because they’re happy.

aconite
The clump of primulas below really needs to be split up, I must remember to do it when they stop flowering, which probably won’t be for another month or two. They’re such good value.

primula

I’m never sure if my hellebores below are Christmas roses or Lenten roses as they always flower in between the two festivals.
hellebores

Isn’t the snowdrop below a beauty? They’re clumping up nicely but this one below seems to be a bit of a loner, splendid in its isolation. It reminds me of a wind turbine, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, as I happen to think that wind turbines look elegant.

snowdrop

Last week I received my free tree and dog rose seeds from The Woodland Trust in the post, and they’re germinating already. Exciting times! I’ll keep you posted on their development.

Cicero quote cushion

I got some bookish presents at Christmas, including the cushion pictured below.

Cicero Quote Cushion

I had never heard of the Cicero quote before:

IF YOU HAVE A GARDEN AND A LIBRARY YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED

but I completely agree with it, what a wise chap he was. It has made me think that I should get down to reading some serious Cicero. I think I might have read some when I was at school, in Latin.

I’ve had a look online for any information about a garden belonging to Cicero but haven’t had any luck finding anything, so his garden must have disappeared – as they often do.

Getxo, Basque Spain

If anyone is interested in seeing more of the lovely town of Getxo in Spain’s Basque country – hop over to A Son of the Rock here as Jack has been posting a lot of photos of our visit in various blogposts, including a transporter bridge, there are very few of them in the world apparently.

Charity/thrift shops – Clark’s Scintilla Silk

I’m not really a big fan of shopping and I would never trail around shops as a sort of hobby the way a lot of women do. It’s bad enough if I am looking for something specific to wear for a particular occasion, so shopping for kicks is just not for me.

I have to admit though to being a wee bit of a charity/thrift shop junkie. I don’t often buy anything mind you but as I always say to myself, you just never know what you might find in one of them, unlike the normal shops which seem to be the same, no matter even which country you’re in nowadays – that’s a form of globalisation I suppose!

Anyway, just before Christmas I was really chuffed to find these boxes of thread in a charity shop in St Andrews. At first I thought they were just empty boxes and I loved the old fashioned design of them, but looking inside I was thrilled to see the balls of thread inside and in pristine condition.

Vintage Threads

Aren’t the colours fabulous?

I think they must have been meant to be used as crochet thread, or maybe for doing very fine silky knitting, such as knickers! I have some old patterns from the 1930s that would use this sort of thread. In fact I think this is when these boxes date from, but they’re a bit of a puzzle. As you can see the manufacturer was Clark’s, a very well known Scottish make, and they are described as being artificial silk for knitting, crochet and art work. But I’m wondering why they are weighed in grams rather than the ounces of the Imperial measures that were used back then? Also the word Colors is spelled in the American way. The box also says Made in Great Britain. Coats/Clark was a company that started up in Paisley in the west of Scotland in 1755. Real Industrial Revolution stuff. In 1864 they expanded the business to Newark, New Jersey, USA as the Clark Thread Company.

I plan to use the threads, maybe in an embroidery project. They’ve obviously been in some woman’s thread stash for many decades, and no doubt she had great intentions of using them too, until she died and her house contents were ‘cleared’ to a charity shop in St Andrews, Fife.

Lorient in Brittany – bagpipes!

We had a fairly miserable weekend weather-wise, freezing overnight and thick ice on the car. I was painting a spare bedroom while Jack went to a football match. It began to snow just a few minutes after he had left the house.

Paint roller in hand, my mind went back to that cruise we went on in the autumn. I realised that I hadn’t mentioned that we were assailed by bagpipe music on the wharf at Lorient.

At first I thought I might be hearing things but as we got closer to the ship, after having visited the town on foot, it was definitely bagpipe music, but not as WE know it.

Bagpipes are popular in various parts of the world but it has to be said that it’s the Scottish bagpipes that are full strength, the type of noise that was a good weapon in many a battle, terrifying the enemy before a sword was drawn. Other bagpipes are pale imitations, but I must admit, much easier on the ears at close quarters!

If you want to hear what the Breton bagpipes sound like – hop over to Jack at A Son of the Rock and click on the photo of the bagpiper, and that’ll take you to his Flickr for the wee video. It has to be said that a Scottish bagpiper’s traditional outfit is far superior to the Breton attire though!

American Jigsaw Puzzle

Wysocki

We’ve just completed our second jigsaw puzzle of the winter. It’s one that Peggy brought over from TN when she visited us last summer. It’s a Charles Wysocki puzzle called Whaler’s Bay, I think that naive (folksy) American style is lovely.

This is the second Wysocki puzzle that we’ve done, I must admit I found the first one to be more difficult than this one, maybe I’m just getting used to the different styles now. There is quite a difference between US and UK puzzles, going by these ones anyway. We managed to do it over two days and a Brit one normally will take the best part of a week with the same number of pieces – 1,000.

I think I’ll be starting another puzzle soon – going by the weather forecast it looks like we’ll be staying at home over the next few days, it’s going to be freezing here!

Jigsaw Season

jigsaw puzzle

Winter means jigsaw season for me, so between Christmas and New Year I cracked open this one of a vintage railway poster from the 1930s. I love these posters – and jigsaws, so for me it was a perfect combination. The puzzle has one thousand pieces and I think it must be the most difficult puzzle I/we’ve ever tackled.

After a couple of days I nearly gave up because I seemed to be almost at a standstill, but eventually we made some decent progress, it took almost a week to complete it though.

We have another couple of new puzzles to do over this winter. The masochist in me almost tidied this one away to start another one, but the sensible bit of me decided to leave it a wee while before starting another one.

2016 – annus horribilis

It must have been about four months ago when Jack mentioned that one of his friends on Facebook mentioned that as far as he was concerned ‘2016 could just f**k right off’. I don’t know which of the many horrible pieces of bad news that we’ve all had to put up with this year pushed him to make that comment, but I didn’t half agree with him. It started with the shocking death of David Bowie and so many other ‘national treasures’ followed him right to the end of this year.

It just kept getting worse and worse though in all sorts of ways and it has without doubt been the saddest and most heart-breaking year that I can ever remember, and I’ve had a few of them over the years.

How do you feel about numbers? I was born at home – a number 33 and I’ve always liked 3, it’s a lucky number. I’ve never liked the number 6, despite the fact that I was born in June, I’ve always been quite trepidatious of number 6. It’s probably something to do with that biblical ‘666’ thing, although I’m reliably informed that that is a mistranslation and it should really be 606 – whatever! So I will be glad to get rid of that 6 from the year date.

I really can’t see that 2017 is going to be any better, in fact I suspect it’ll be even worse what with Brexit and T***p, but I live in hope, because I grew up from the age of 5 in a house that was a number 17 and for me it has always been a friendly number. I know, I’m clutching at straws – but it’s definitely straw clutching time.