I’ve just completed winter. Not actual winter, since it’s August and we’re in the northern hemisphere, but the chilliest colourway of the four-season cowl design that I’ll be publishing shortly. But as I said in my last post, this is a British winter, so discard any notions of sparkly white snow against a blue sky, and instead embrace the dank and soggy undertones of sludgy reality. They’re quite pretty once you get used to them. The yarn is Stylecraft Highland Heathers DK.
Next up on my colourway-creating list is summer. And summer looks less sludgy than winter, which is perhaps an inaccurate portrayal of the weather situation around here. Note to self: summer needs a bit more rain-grey, disappointingly-chilly-village-fete-brown, potato-blight-yellow, and uncomfortably-windswept-six-mile-run-blue.
Meanwhile, on the important subject of growing food for my family as a distraction from the horrors of the outside world, it’s the second best month of the year for harvest totals. (October always comes out top.) I keep spreadsheets and graphs of every last gram of food brought inside, so can tell you in an instant whether the blackberries were better this year than in 2020, and whether 2022’s carrots began cropping earlier than usual. But right now in August there are enough plums to sink a battleship (although more efficient means of sinking battleships doubtless exist so please don’t consider this a recommendation), sufficient French beans to fill a colander, and – as a first-time cranberry-grower – enough cranberries to fill… OK, there’s one cranberry. Just the one. Feel free to pop round and behold its miniscule magnificence. I check on it daily as it slowly ripens, just in case it needs a drink or a pep-talk or a bedtime story. It probably gets a little bit lonely on its own. Berries are herd fruits, after all.
Fortunately August is also an abundant time for runner beans, achocha, potatoes, shallots, green beans, blackberries, wild strawberries, onions, calabrese, courgettes, cucumbers, cabbage, edamame beans, and cauliflower. The chickpeas, apples, pears, amaranth, and quinoa are nearly ready, and the grapes are looking promising. I’m learning to cram as much food as possible into our tiny garden (and the beds kindly loaned to me by two friends), with achocha and thornless blackberries scrambling up the fruit trees, and forest-edge plants such as gooseberries, redcurrants, wild strawberries, and wild garlic under the shade of next door’s trees beside the fence. Anything that can be grown vertically occupies minimal ground space and is rewarded with its own metalwork arch for efficient scrambling/climbing. I wanted to illustrate this point with a photo, but… it’s raining. Again. So here’s a picture of a tiny proportion of our plum glut instead.
It’s been a slow change from how I grew years ago, when I attempted to persuade annual food plants to flourish in unsuitable places by sheer force of will. Reader, you will never achieve show-stopping heads of calabrese if you grow them along the fence, under the shadow of next door’s trees. These days it’s all about the perennials, which can push their roots down deep.
A couple of times each week, I wander outside and pick a few bits and pieces for a garden stir fry. This is an idea inspired by reading Alan Carter’s A Food Forest In Your Garden. Seriously, I highly recommend this book, far more so than anything else I’ve read on the subject – and I’ve read a lot.
But let’s return to the important matter of yarn.
The pattern for the cowl is largely complete, although I’m struggling to compile a yarny representation of spring. I’ll publish it soon, with details of how to join the ends of the cowl together using Kitchener Stitch.
It’s a relatively speedy and easy knit, and I’m looking forward to sharing the details.
Until next time, my Fine Fibrous Friends.