Last week my book was finally published.It has been more than two years in the making and I wrote Making Winter because I find the colder months incredibly tough. I associate this season with stress, illness and sadness but began to notice that I was able to lift the gloom with craft and with nature walks. My hope is that my book will help those who struggle between November and March to enjoy winter a little more and that it will make Winter even lovelier for those who already savour it. (Making Winter is on offer on Amazon at the moment and you can order it here)
Each of the 24 projects is designed to boost mood and many of them begin with a nature walk to find things to draw, paint, bend into wreaths, infuse into gin or simply collect and admire. I have included a step-by-step tutorial for drawing feathers, a recipe for hawthorn gin, a delicious liqueur that had fallen out of favour and yet tastes like Turkish Delight and a method for preserving leaves in glycerin so their beautiful colours don’t fade.
There are 5 crochet patterns in my book, including a step-by-step for this, the Pantile shawl, designed for complete beginners. When I had only just mastered chain and double crochet I longed to be able to make a shawl even more than I longed to have Mel and Sue round to mine for a cup of tea. If you have just learned to wield a hook and yarn and would love to make a garment then this is for you. There’s also a cosy cowl inspired by wild fennel seedheads, a delicate lace crochet necklace that is perfect for giving as a gift and some wrist warmers inspired by the natural garlands of haws in the hedgerows just now.
I was thrilled to have been able to do my own photography for Making Winter and my gorgeous publishers, Michael O’Mara,even let me fill the book with my illustrations to accompany the projects. The title on the front of the book is my calligraphy transformed into an embossed rose gold foil. I never thought I’d type that sentence, never mind see the reality on the front of a book I made.
One project I’m particularly excited about is a detailed step-by-step for making botanical silver fossils. I teach folk how to make these pendants in my silver workshops so it’s lovely to be able to share this technique a little more widely. If you’ve wanted to come to one of my workshops but haven’t managed because of geography or timing then the few pages of Making Winter dedicated to making fine silver fossils from leaves you find in your garden or local hedgerow might be of interest…
In my book I encourage the reader to crow bar themselves free of their sofa, cosy textiles, fireside and nestling hairy companion and take a stroll outside. Even if the sun is enshrouded in cloud sunlight will enter your eyes and boost your serotonin levels. Finding beautiful things beneath trees or in hedgerows to bring home and make things with or draw later will add to the positivity of the experience and will hopefully lead to several, if not many more walks before April arrives and the swallows return. I truly hope my book helps a few folk in the coming months.
Meanwhile I am the newest Country Diarist for the Guardian newspaper. This is a century-old column on natural history and the countryside and my first piece is about the plants and lichens that manage to colonise the shingle of Dungeness despite the botanically brutal environment amongst the pebbles. You can read it here.
Apologies for the delay in announcing the winner of my Four Hedges giveaway but it’s been rather a hectic few weeks. I’d like to send this hardback copy to Sharon Michelle, whose partner has been unwell. I SO hope she sees this. Sharon, please email me on emma at minniedog dot co dot uk and I will put Four Hedges in the post to you.
Finally thank you so much for your incredibly kind support on my blog in the last 9 years. You have helped to make this book possible. My posts may be sporadic at times but I am determined to write more here throughout the coming months.