Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Yarn Along

This week, joining in with Ginny I have a pair of socks on my needles. I have a sock target – I would like to have enough pairs of handknit wool socks so that I don't have to wear anything else all winter (autumn and spring as well if the truth be known, I love cosy feet.) I use the same pattern everytime which I realise isn't very adventurous but it is easy and sock knitting is for when I don't want to think too hard or something exciting is on the iplayer.

Reading this week is Steiner's lectures on the Gospel of St Luke. I think these are my favourite of Steiner's lectures that I have come across so far. I am re-reading them as I am studying them in my local anthroposophical study group. I love the way that these lectures are full of a message of love, joy and the unity of religions. The idea of finding common ground rather than focussing on differences is so important and the fact that spiritual truths are spoken by people of different faiths, nations and races at different points in history is clear and unifying in itself.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


Misty Cottage is an amazing place to live, we are so fortunate to have been able to make this our home for the last twenty years or so.

Apart from the stunning scenery, one of the most spectacular sights here is the starling murmuration. Starlings over winter here, they feed on worms and other creatures that live just under the surface of the soil so when it threatens to get seriously cold in their summer countries in Scandinavia or Russia they fly over to us. We notice them arriving at around the time of the autumnal equinox and they stay until the spring equinox. There are a few who live here year round but the vast majority are winter visitors. About 500 yards down the lane from Misty Cottage is a stretch of Forestry Commission conifer plantation which provides an excellent roost for them. In fact within half a mile of here there are several such plantations and the starlings alternate between them. 

Hard to see but the black patch in the field is a patch of birds.

Today, as it began to turn to dusk, the starlings gathered all around Misty Cottage. Every tree was laden with chattering birds, there were large black patches of them in the fields and the noise was incredible. They chatter away to each other noisily and then all of a sudden a hush falls and the next moment the air is filled with the sound of tens of thousands of wings beating as they all take off together. As they fly overhead the sky is thick with them and they move like smoke over to the trees. At this point it is advisable to have your hood up! If you are really lucky they decide that they are not too keen on where they have settled and they will all rise up out of the trees and make beautiful shapes together in the air before settling down again into different trees. My photos can't do this spectacle justice by any means but the pictures may give you an idea.

Here are some from the neighbouring field just taking off.

There are various videos on YouTube showing the murmuration here is a link to one filmed by someone with a better camera than mine! 

Monday, 23 February 2015

If at first you don't succeed...

Frog it! 

Look at my lovely hat. I was doing so well and then a lapse in concentration at a vital moment found me having to knit backwards and all of a sudden I was lost and couldn't find my way back. So I will be casting that on again over the next day or two and paying a bit more attention whilst knitting this time.

Meanwhile I have threaded some metallic thread with beads ready to crazy ply this bobbin of highly textured silk. I love doing this, it is one of my favourite things to do and it creates one of my favourite yarns, it just looks so beautiful with all its hidden treasures peeping out or lying in wait to be discovered as you use the yarn. I think I would like to try weaving a little something with it in a week or two.

The Misty Cottage children are back to school today after a week off for half term. I can't say that they were joyous at the prospect (though I have a sneaking suspicion that one of them was looking forward to seeing friends) but the house is quiet and I am productive so it is not all bad!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Yarn Along

I'm joining in with Ginny today for the first time, so I hope I manage the links properly.

On my needles at the moment is a slouchy hat, Graham, a free pattern by Jennifer Adams which I have adapted to incorporate two spirals in a contrasting yarn. I am using my handspun yarn, the pink is 80% merino, 20% silk which I spun from a batt from Wingham Wool Work and the blue is navaho plied merino. I have to say that I love the blue and pink together.

The book that I am reading today is Festivals of the Year A Workbook for Re-enlivening the Christian Festive Cycle by Roger Druitt. Roger is a priest of the Anthroposophical Christian Community and writes simply and clearly about the roots of the festivals and how they reflect and are reflected in nature. He also give ideas and suggestions for meditation and prayer. Today being Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I was reading the Lent section over breakfast this morning.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Green Shoots

'The sun is shining, the weather is sweet now,
Make you want to move your dancing feet' 

Ok, I know that spring has not really sprung yet and that the weather could turn back to freezing cold, windy and wet but today is perfect. The sun is shining, there is no wind and no precipitation of any kind – bliss.

We have been working in the Misty Cottage garden, shallots, garlic and elephant garlic are in the ground. One veg bed is half forked over, bulbs are shooting up all over the place and I marked lots of things in the seed catalogue over breakfast this morning, so it feels like spring.

Just like the bulbs in the garden I can feel new ideas shooting up in my mind – it is driving me a bit nutty I have to admit. I just can't make all the prototypes fast enough! It is so exciting when the creativity begins to flow, I am awash with brilliant ideas for things to make for my prospective shop.

I have set myself the target of opening an Etsy shop at the beginning of April and I would like to have a minimum of 20 items to list initially with more either ready to go or nearly ready so I can update regularly – Oh my goodness, another idea has just popped fully formed into my head!!! Best I get on and make some stuff!

Monday, 9 February 2015

Snowdrop Sunday

Snowdrop, snowdrop, little drop of snow,
What do you do when the cold wind blows?
I hang my little head and say,
Cold wind, cold wind, blow away.

Yesterday was Snowdrop Sunday at Pencarrow, a Georgian house and gardens not far from Misty Cottage. We have always loved visits to Pencarrow, children are actively encouraged to run on the grass and climb the trees and dogs are also welcome.

There are some beautiful features in the garden including a grotto, a lake, a granite cross and some fabulous specimen trees.

I think the gardens must also be helped by the the gnomes who have fabulous places to live in the woods around the more formal gardens.

I always feel inspired after a walk there, particularly on Snowdrop Sunday or Bluebell Sunday (3rd May 2015). I am most definitely hatching some needle felting plans after yesterday's visit.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

'To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven'

Life here at Misty Cottage is definitely seasonal. Living, as we do, in the middle of nowhere surrounded not by buildings, streets and people but by landscape, sky and weather our experience of the seasons is immediate and sometimes very powerful. On the smallholding now in the middle of winter the hens aren't laying, the pigs are about to become part of the food chain (via our freezer) and only one of the ducks is managing to produce the occasional egg. The garden still has a little to offer - kale and chard have withstood the cold and wet so far and the parsnips, left in the ground to sweeten with the frost are delicious and very welcome.

Waking the veg bed on Candlemas

Indoors we enjoy the seasonal festivals that mark our progress through each year, Christmas, Easter, St John's, Michaelmas and all points inbetween. We also watch as our children grow and move through the seasons of their lives.

So really I should not be surprised to find that a new season is beginning for me. My time as a home-educating mum is, I think, over (never say never and all that) and it is time for me to decide on what comes next. I would like to be at home when the children get home from school - they finish at 2.30. I would like us to be able to continue with our smallholding. I would like to be creative and do something that I love. All of these things point me in the direction that so many others have found, that is to work from home designing, making, crafting and ultimately selling. I think it is now or never for this venture so here goes ...