Autumn projects

OK, rant over.  Normal service is resumed.  It was great though to find how many of you share my wish that we could all relax, accept that we grow older,  and be comfortable in our own skin.

Saturday here was a beautiful golden day, autumn at its absolute best.  Younger son and daughter in law were staying for the weekend and we all went walking.  I love the way here that you can walk, really walk with grass and heather, hills and views to the horizon, right from the door.

The dog loved it too.  You can just see her at the top of the path, whizzing back to check where we were, before heading off again at a joyous lope.

As we walked up to the end of the road we met a local farmer.  "Better just hop over the stile there" he said.  "I'm bringing the cattle down."  Safely  on the far side of the gate, we watched as the herd came down from the hill, driven from behind by two guys on one very small moped.

I don't know how many there were, sixty or seventy perhaps, all determined to eat whatever they could snatch as they powered down the hill.

Our daughter in law was determinedly collecting fungi.  She has an amazing eye for even the smallest.  This is only a fraction of what she brought home and these we identified, with reasonable certainty, from my fungi book.  She was all for eating them, or at least the chanterelles on the left, but Chris was determined that she should not.  One of the troubles with medical training is that you are far too close to the horror stories about people who died following misidentification of mushrooms, so rather sadly we threw them away.  Oh for the French system of taking them to the pharmacist!  What a civilised country.

We ate a lot, drank some wine, chatted and caught up with each other.  When they went the house seemed very quiet and empty - in the last fortnight we have had two visiting dogs and visits from our younger daughter as well and all that lovely warmth and life was a delight.  It's a bit quiet now.

You can tell when autumn has really arrived up here because the garden shrinks away and stops occupying most of my brain.  This is a real relief.  I love my garden.  I obsess about it for most of the year but by the time October is blowing out I am close to fed up with it.  I have had enough.  I want some time and head space back for other things.  Does this happen to other gardeners?  Just to turn my back on it, to sod the dandelions and the overgrown artemisia, not to think about it  and let the garden go is a relief.  I will get out there sometime in November.  I will plant tulips and tidy  up a bit, although I will leave a lot for the birds, but just now I have had enough.  I am wholly ready to turn my back, go inside and shut the door.

It is time to dig out the knitting which was put away in the spring.  Firstly the socks on double pointed needles.

This is only my second pair of knitted socks.  I think I am improving and I love this Regia wool but I am still seriously slow on four needles.  Anyone who knows the secret of avoiding the "ladder" effect when you move from one needle to the other, please let me know!  I was so fed up with my first attempt at this sock that I pulled back what I had done, perhaps twice as  much as this, and started again.  I spent some time trawling the internet for sock knitting tips and am trying the "give a little tug at the second stitch of the new row" suggestion.  If you know better, tell me please!

Because this is clearly a long term project, I thought I would have a quick diversion to do something satisfyingly speedy.  I bought Melanie Falick's "Weekend Knitting" at Waterstones in Chester, a really gorgeous book that is full of things that make you feel like having a go.

These fingerless gloves are from her book and are the simplest, fastest thing you can imagine, all made in knit stitch, you don't even need to know how to purl, and each glove is easy for even a slow knitter like me to do in a single evening.  Mmmm, they say you can tell someone's age from their hands you know.  Let's move on...

I like to have a couple of projects on the go simultaneously: the mindlessly easy one which you can do when you are chatting or watching television and the need to concentrate one which requires your full attention and which is, I am sure, some form of meditation.  The socks are the concentrating one, for me anyway.  This crocheted blanket is the mindless one.  This makes it look a good deal more done than it is because I have as usual bitten off more than I can chew.  This is meant to be a blanket for a kingsized bed so these two stripes will be about a third of the finished blanket, so while it might be easy it is another long term project!  I started this last year when my father in law was in hospital.  We seemed to spend a lot of time sitting by his bed and the early stages of the blanket were both portable and soothing to do.  The balance between the mindless and the complex has to be watched.  Sometimes I  might do some of both in one evening.  Do too much of the mindless and it becomes simply boring.  Do only the complicated and slow, and the inching snail like progress begins to get me down.  Butterfly mind.

So close the door, light the fire, pull the chair close.  The garden has had its turn for this year.


  1. Totally agree with that "I'm finished with the garden now" feeling, apathy hits about now, and really the clear up is almost more than I can muster! I know by Spring I'll be giddy with anticipation again, strange but probably very natural and necessary? Bx

  2. Nearly .... nearly finished with the garden, but not quite. Although it is having to fend for itself as I am spending all my time in the studio - but my tulips arrived to-day so will have to find spaces for them over the next week or two.

    Lovely pictures Elizabeth - I rather like the cows.

  3. I'm not much of a gardener, so I've no comment about that part of this post, but I love your projects! I recently picked up my hook and needles again, after a long break, and have had a lot of fun with similar projects, myself.
    I have noticed what you term the ladder effect, but have not really vanquished it. I have been trying to pull the first stitch of each needle extra tight before going on. It seems to help, but I wouldn't say it eliminates the problem. Maybe if I combine it with your suggestion...
    Your gloves are beautiful, and beautifully simple. And the blanket looks as though it will be warmth to body and soul when you finish it.


  4. I find tugging the second stitch helps but I'm a very tight knitter so it doesn't seem to be much of a problem for me anyway - the ladders, such as they are, disappear on the first wash and wear. Are you on - I'm sure someone will be able to answer the question there. If you're not do join up - it's great!

  5. Really like this new blog format Elizabeth.

  6. Really like this new blog format Elizabeth.

  7. Except for the fact that my comments appear twice.

  8. Hi Elizabeth,
    Blissful autumn days!
    Re the knitting - if you knit with five dpns rather than four, the angle between each needle changes, meaning the ladder effect is decreased as the knitting is under less stress. However, my preferred option is knitting on a tiny circular needle - just 20cm long - and perfect for socks. The knitting is quicker, no ladders, and you just switch over to dpns for the heel turn and the toe decreases. Magic! Do get in touch if you want more info!

  9. Hi Elizabeth. As you pulled back what you had done on your first sock, does that mean you have lost the hole? If pulled back doesn't mean what I think, then that is double proof that I am not a knitter!!

  10. Sad to say that I can't knit for toffee. My mum was a left hander and me a right. It didn't make for an easy transfer. Add to that my lack of any real motivation...

    Having said that, I can see why people enjoy it so much and your blanket is going to be gorgeous. I love your choice of colours!

  11. I have a butterfly mind as well and also like to have winter projects. Last year it was the RHS but that was just too hard and I need things I can do while watching TV. I have a quilt on the go but I need to concentrate on the tiny stitches so I might check out that knitting book - would also like to remember how to crochet, do you have instructions for your throw.
    I think when you change from needles you need to hold the yarn tighter & that avoids the ladder effect, rings a bell.
    I also give up on gardening books and hit the novels - working my way through the Man Booker shortlist

  12. I spent time this weekend pulling the dead tomato bushes,dead pepper plants. Putting away the tomato cages. Mine garden has long since been done... here in Texas we start our gardens much earlier than most and they burn to a crisp I am sad to say by the time some are just starting to plant! But clean up comes in the fall when its not 110 outside :O).

    I crochet a little but no help in the knitting. Your projects are lovely!

  13. I'm envious, our climate doesn't allow for abandoning the garden. In summer I must water the roses, but right now - everything is coming up roses.

    And the socks - do try a circular needle. I've never knitted socks, but have lots of circular needles. With careful planning I could avoid LOTS of seams!

  14. Lovely post - and good knitting too. I'm still fiddling about in my garden but I do agree that it's easier to get it in proportion now. Years ago, a very wise gardener said to me 'do what you can between October and March, because from March to October you'll only have time to keep it under control.' (And not even under control, ahem) Loads of projects are lined up...

  15. I can't knit for toffee - I have tried and failed miserably so many times. Its the attention to detail I think, and I am not good at that.

    Garden here is about to undergo major changes as everything approaches dormancy, and I can lift and move everything around to fit in with the new scheme of things. I have countless bulbs to plant too.

    Love the blanket, really lovely colours, I like the fleck in it, adds to the texture.

  16. Lovely blanket! But "the garden has had its turn for this year" made me feel ashamed - my poor garden hasn't been looked at yet, and will have to fester/grow uncontrollably till the Spring if I don't get out there soon and do something!

  17. Those of us with lots of projects and interests waiting in the wings are so lucky. We'll never, ever be bored!

  18. Thank you! I am delighted to appear on a list where all the blogs I don't yet know say, in your vivid words - READ ME. I will be back to explore your blogroll.

  19. Can't seem to find the comments so maybe someone has already said this. I have often heard about taking your mushrooms into a French Pharmacy, but I can't help wondering whether, if you did, you might not get a dirty look. Everything is so clean and precise and you turn up with some old newspaper stuffed with Stinkhorn fungus and leave the place needing fumigation. Personally, I think, there night just be a Gallic shrug and a 'Desolé' and someone holding the door wide open in case you hadn't got the hint. But I could be wrong in this as in so much else.

  20. I made some similar fingerless gloves a few years ago from some wool left over from making an Icelandic jumper. They were amazingly quick to knit and they're just right gardening jobs at this time of the year or in February.

    BTW I was over at Threadspider's yesterday and Dynamic views can't be read at the moment on iPads. Not that owners of iPads make up much of our readership but I thought you'd like to know.

    I've just spent a very happy hour going through all of my photos from when Karen and I came to visit. You must think I'm terribly rude because I haven't sent you a thank you card. It's all ready in an envelope, but I don't have your address!

  21. just found your blog from the profile on your comment (thanks for visiting) and so glad I did, I love your garden posts (oh how I wish my garden was bigger....) and your knitting is lovely, I am a beginner knitter but I love socks, one tip is to move a few stitches across the needles every few rows, this spreads the loose stitches from the needles changes around so they aren't so noticeable. I have just knitted a pair on a circular needle with the magic loop method, (youtube tutorials) and they are lvoely, no ladders.

  22. What a gorgeous blanket, and I really must get the pattern for the fingerless gloves, my mother-in-law would love them, her hands get so very cold. I thought it was just me that was really ready for the garden to no longer hog my mind. I love Autumn and Winter for that very reason, though I do still find myself obsessing about my plans for next year. And with the allotment, it feels as if I will be weeding forever, even in to winter!

  23. Love the new look - it won't work for me on the iPad so this is my first proper look. Great.

    I've had a problem with 'ladders' too - partly resolved by consciously knitting the stitches at the cross-over more tightly. 5 needles is worth trying but I've never managed to find a small circular one yet.

  24. I was thinking about mushrooms yesterday and wishing my grandfather were alive as he was such an expert - he used to love collecting them and was always delighted with what he gathered. I remember his joy at finding a perfect giant puff ball and slicing 'fungi steaks'.

  25. I love your new-look blog - absolutely fantastic design! I totally agree with your post below, which I don't think is a rant, but a very sensible and reasoned argument - I think it is so sad when a woman's self-esteem is so bound up in her looks that she desperately tries to turn the clock back - I know I am older but wiser, too, I hope, and why try to push water uphill?!

    There was a programme on Radio 4 recently about a chap who spent years identifying and photographing fungi, and has published the most comprehensive and accurate book. I am still a complete scaredy-cat about it all though!

    Pomona x

  26. Thanks for the sock making tips! I shall keep a look out for small circular needles and in the meantime, keep tugging the second stitch.

  27. I too am done with the garden, but have plans for a tonne of sheet mulching. Five bales of straw arrive tomorrow, to go under burlap with leaves, killing grass and making bed. When I used to knit hats I would shift the transition between needles one stitch long for each row and avoid the ladder effect that way. Not sure if this would work for socks knitted to a pattern or not.


Post a Comment

Comments are the best thing and the conversations they produce are the whole purpose of blogging for me. Do tell me what you think!