Cuppa and a catch up

Hello! How are you doing?

February 2020 has been a very odd month here in the UK. The weather has been crazy and areas of the country that experienced flooding before Christmas have been joined by many more. Parts of York, which is well known for its floods, and over in West Yorkshire around Calderdale and Hebden Bridge have been hit hard. But other parts of the UK too, including South Wales, which took a real battering the weekend before last with Storm Dennis.

I know these storms are not in the same league as hurricanes, but having a month’s worth of rain falling in a single day two weekends in a row on top of already saturated land has led to swollen rivers that have overwhelmed already inadequate flood defences.

Very fortunately I have been unaffected personally other than being more confined to home – not the worst thing in the world. Getting cosy and creative seemed to be the best thing to do until the storms have passed.

At the beginning of the month I spent my usual bit of time arranging a seasonal table display – this one to mark Imbolc on February 1st, supposedly the start of spring 🙂 Maybe not this year! But its been the perfect time to enjoy some winter flowers from the garden and enjoy some candlelight.

An update on Less, my word for the year 2020

Back in January I started the year with the intention of having less impact on the planet, starting with an effort to reduce my use of plastics. Its not been exactly plain sailing. Discovering tea bags are mostly made of plastic was something of a low point but other things have been working out well.

My weekly milk delivery is trouble-free, I’m getting a local produce veg box delivered and packed with veg far tastier than those in the supermarket, I’m keeping up with baking my own bread and yoghurt and I’ve been making meals from scratch routinely.

This has had a big impact – I’ve felt so much more energetic – and my creativity in the kitchen has returned in a big way. I have stacks of cook books but my favourites are those written by Nigel Slater.

Its been a while since I last bought a cook book and when I realised there were two new Nigel Slater ones out, I must admit that I did treat myself.

Published in the autumn of 2019, Greenfeast I and Greenfeast II have recipes that cover the entire year. I’ve been getting lots of inspiration for using up the suedes and red cabbages that invariably come in the veg box in February as well as planning some great salads when the weather eventually improves!

Eating loads of vegetables also means having lots of peelings, skins and other byproducts that are just crying out to be ushered towards a dyepot. One of the other reasons I’ve been quiet the last two weeks is that I’m planning another video special all about natural dyeing. This kind of filming takes time but its also really easy to get carried away and forget the time.

One thing I’m going to do is to explore more of the effects of iron and copper modifiers after dyeing with plant materials such as onion skins. If you look back to this blog post you can find out what I’ve done already.

Onion skin dyed crochet motifs

A long-neglected blanket project

But more about that another time. I’ve just published Episode 94, which is a chatty catch up with lots of rambling on! As well as the dyeing, I’ve also rediscovered a long lost blanket project and its starting to come to life again.

I began to work on a Kilim style blanket years ago now, but fell out of love with it. Its been carefully folded, with the yarns I was using, in a box on one of my shelves for at least two-and-a-half years. That’s the trouble with boxes that you can’t see into without taking the top off! Instant memory loss.

I’m glad I’ve discovered it now, rather than in the middle of summer and it has given me some very welcome relaxation time in these blustery February evenings.

Not that I’ve made huge progress – but playing in the dyepots is hard work and I’m not beating myself up too much if all I want to do is read, listen to some music, or just fall asleep in front of the TV!

Anyway, you can hear more about the blanket project and what I’ve been doing in Episode 94, which is now on YouTube.

Rocking up at a Yorkshire bead fair

This last weekend, the weather relented a little bit and on Sunday I took a trip up over to North Yorkshire, to the Rock, Gem and Bead Fair at the Harrogate Pavillions.

I met up with my brother (we enjoy doing silversmithing together) and it turned out to be a wonderfully sunny afternoon. We had lunch at Fodder, a large farm shop and restaurant next door, and enjoyed each other’s company while acquiring a few new shiny pretty things…

My haul included some faceted Amazonite and Rhodonite, some tiny labradorite beads and some cabochons made from fossils. I’ve never seen those before and I thought they would make really unusual pendants.

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