A belated Merry New Year to you. I do hope the last six weeks or so weren’t too beset with stress and that you were able to enjoy
- sitting down, at least now and then
- the correct amount of cheese*
- some making, even if it was simply making a pleasing and essential layer of blubber** to warm you on frosty mornings
- the good gravy
I confess I had creative droop just before Christmas and I considered writing to Gardeners’ World to see if they could advise me about this ailment. I think I was rather burned out, but I did all the things on the list above during Yule, especially number 2, and am now thankfully recharged (and happily rounded) and keen to draw robins again. I have started the new year with stitching of various kinds, a visit from a BBC director (see the reason for her visit later in this post) a new gig as the craft columnist for BBC Countryfile magazine (click for my first column) and a LOT of writing for a Big New Project.
I haven’t done a great deal of embroidery since I was 22, when I covered a pair of denim shorts in intricate lazy daisy and stitched leaves and would wear them to the lab. I was in my final year of University at the time. In retrospect this was the not the wisest outfit in which to do experiments: sometimes I used hydrochloric acid. Gawd.
The stitchy commission I’m working was working on in January has reminded me of the calm of needle and thread and using them to make patterns on linen. This project is inspired by British plants, as much of my work is, and in particular bluebells, wild fennel and blue fleabane (Erigeron acer), a small, humble yet very beautiful relative of garden asters that likes to grow in dappled shade.
Meanwhile huge apologies to those Making Winter readers who have been searching for my instructions for basic crochet stitches. They were in a bloggy backwater and admittedly tricky to spot. Click on the image below to take your first steps with hook and yarn:
These are the basic stitches you need for many, many patterns. There are ‘taller’ stitches such as double treble, cluster stitches such as the berry stitch in my hawthorn wrist warmer pattern and front/back post stitches which create ribbing or texture but these basic stitches saw me right for my first year or two of crochet adventures. I have been saying this for some time but I WILL make little films for Youtube soon, not only of crochet stitches but also of hibernating ladybirds, blackthorn buds in the wood behind our cottage and my hand drawing things, I promise.
I really wanted to thank those folk who have bought my book and let me know that they’ve been enjoying it on social media or via my contact page. I wrote it in the hope of helping those who might be struggling with stress, anxiety or winter blues. If you have been reading it or making things using my tutorials and it has helped to soothe or cheer you on tricky days I would so love to hear from you in the comments. It would make the crazed deadlines and all nighters last May worthwhile x
You may have heard me talking about all of the above to Jane Garvey on Woman’s Hour on Wednesday morning. You can listen on player here if you like.
I will be on the Countryfile Winter Special this Sunday 4th February 6.30 (towards the end of the programme), talking to Anita Rani about SAD and teaching her how to cast winter nature finds in silver. The programme will play live and can be watched here after that time.
*which is never less than all the cheese
**Important blubber-making tutorial. Materials: chocolate, roast potatoes, a sofa