As October comes to a close, I’m excited to introduce a new strand: Lately, in wool. Here you’ll find a brief round-up of what woolly pursuits have been keeping me busy the past month. I’m hoping it will be a manageable way to keep a visual journal of my progress and experiments. But I’d also love you to join in and share what you’ve been up to with wool recently on your own blog, whether it be spinning, knitting, crochet, sewing, natural dyeing or just simple wool gathering (i.e. enhancing your stash!). If you do, please leave a link to your post in the comments so I can drop by and take a look!
Where spinning has been concerned, October has been about finishing off projects that were languishing on the bobbins since the summer:
- Plying up some Ryeland singles (spun from some sliver left over from my Tour de Fleece spindle spin).
- Finishing off a 2 ply sample skein of Lourdaise, spun “in the grease” from hand-carded rolags.
- Gradually working my way through a big bag of carded Texel fleece (French reared, sheared & prepared) that I acquired at the same time as my (second-hand) Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel.
At the start of the month, some dear friends came to stay with us for a week. I had been feeling like I was caught in a place of stasis where my knitting was concerned recently, but having a friend to knit with certainly helped pull me out of the rut! Florine is an incredibly talented & prolific knitter (as well as being the sweetest person), and I was so glad to be able to knit & chat with her once the baby was tucked up in bed each evening. Whilst they were here,
- I made some real headway on my Papa Bear Jumper finishing up both sleeves during their stay, meaning I now have knitted all the pieces of the jumper. A few days later I was able to block them and now all that’s left is to knit the neckband and do the seaming when I next have some spare energy.
- I also cast on another Quynn hat for little man, as we seem to have misplaced last year’s one! It would probably have been too small for him now anyway, as after measuring his head we’ve now gone up to the biggest size.
The mists of the start of the month seem to have given way to some unseasonally warm weather – just perfect for some natural dye experiments. I have to wait until the baby is in bed (or out for a few hours with Papa) and so am gradually working out a system of splitting up all the different tasks associated with the process of dyeing – and learning the importance of extensive note taking in the process! As with all woolly pursuits these days, progress can be slow. But it does mean I’m really enjoying the process all that more.
When our babe was just a few weeks old, I dropped by one afternoon to our local blanket maker’s to proudly show him off to the owner and his wife. The last time they had seen me, I was just a week off giving birth, and had waddled in searching for an emergency skein of yarn to finish off his first blanket…
After a happy ten minutes of the owner’s wife cooing over baby, I inadvertently came back home with four skeins of freshly milled yarn, made using wool reared & sheared in our valley from the local breed of Barégeoise sheep. Oops!
I wasn’t supposed to be buying any more yarn then. But it was hard to resist those smooshy skeins; from the light & lofty woollen spin of the yarn, to the creamy, subtly flecked oatmeal shade (obtained by the light blending of a dash of natural black with the white fleeces), this yarn was just perfect for a first post-partum knitting project I had in mind. And the fact that the yarn was spun using fleeces from the Autumn 2014 clip of wool (when I was in the first few weeks of pregnancy) made it even more irresistible.
Do you have any extra special skeins of yarns in your stash? If so, I’d love to hear about them below!
At what point did I first feel like a mama?
In that moment when he emerged and we were still one, just before he took his first gulp of air? When I lifted his purple form from below, up to my chest and he rooted for that first suckle?
Or was it before? When we first heard his heartbeat on the sonographers machine? Or I felt that first little flutter deep in my belly?
Was I born to be a mama? Or was I born as a mama that moment he came into the world, face up, gazing at the stars?
Hard to know, really.
But what I do know is this; after all those years of longing, I am a mama now.
Spindrift on the Néouvielle, January 2011 (Hautes Pyrénées)
The name “Spindrift” comes from a lot of different places.
It’s a beautiful little word of Scottish origin, referring to both the spray blown up from the surface of the sea or the powdery snow blown off a mountain top.
Born and raised on the south coast of Britain, I now find myself living on a mountainside in the French Pyrénées, raising a joyful little boy with my French sweetheart.
Where salt in the air and sand between my toes always felt like the smell and feel of home for me, now the scent of pine trees on a summer’s afternoon and the distant tinkling of sheep bells are also anchor points for me. Where once I missed the energy of a blustery walk along the seashore on a stormy day, now I find I miss the familiar contours of the mountains when I am away from them too long.
And so for someone who came from the sea and now finds herself settled on a mountainside, Spindrift seems the perfect way to bring these two threads together.
For me, “Spindrift” also signifies a steady but intentionally slow movement. Not seeking to rush, but rather letting oneself be gently carried along by the gentle pace of things; love, nature, life. It’s a value we actively seek to incorporate into every aspect of our daily lives, and one I would love this space to embody.
Finally, that drifting also encompasses the idea of unexpected deviation from an intended course. I would never, could never have expected the shape of my life to be turning out as it is now. But here I am, abandoning myself to the natural flow of things.
And then suddenly, everything is different. The late summer warmth drained from the valley overnight as the autumn breathed a newfound chill into the morning.
Outside, the grass was wet with damp and the smoke of the first wood fires mixed with the earthy fragrance of the woodland in this new season.
In the days and weeks ahead, the autumn chill will make the hills around us change. Come midday, the veils of morning mist will lift to reveal hillsides stained with dashes of gold and blazing streaks of red. There will be rain, no doubt. Lots of rain. But also cosy knits and crackling fires.
As you may already know, I live with the chronic health condition ME. Have done since I was eleven years old. It’s something I’m always a little reticent to talk about online, partly because despite it being such a big part of my life, it’s also so very personal. But mainly because it’s not always easy to know how to talk about it. But seeing as we’re at the start of things here, I’d like to share with you a post I wrote elsewhere, originally inspired by my dear friend, the wonderfully talented print-maker Jai…whose gorgeous work you can now find here and here.
Living with a chronic illness means there are good days and bad days.
Mountain days and fire-side days. Up-right, walking sort of days. And secret, quiet days that nobody knows about but me and my closest loved ones.
There are days where I feel on top of the world. When I literally am on top of the world. And there are days when just getting out of bed
seems like is an expedition.
I don’t need to talk about these secret days all the time. But I’m also slowly starting to understand that they are nothing to be ashamed of either.
Because the pattern of my days mirrors the patterns of the mountains surrounding our home. These highs and lows are what make the landscape so very interesting.
And in my daily life, it is these secret, quiet days that make the others so very, very special.
This is what early autumn feels like in our mountains : misty and chilly when we wake up to find our view eclipsed by the clouds that sit on the neighbouring mountain top. They hang like a thick veil across the sky, obscuring everything until the sun finally breaks through in the late morning.
It is already October. Already a year has gone by since I moved into this space, when our baby was just three months old. I had so many intentions and plans, all of which have steadily fallen by the wayside as the year has unfolded. Because although the words, the motivation and the dreams have been there deep down inside, I’ve been struggling to let them out into the fresh air. Partly because I’ve been undecided about just how much I want to document and share about our daily life as three. But mainly because in the grand scheme of things, blogging hasn’t really been my greatest priority this past year.
Because underneath this silence, that has hung like a mist, so much life has happened. Twelve months that have passed by in a haze spent with a dear little boy we feel we have always known. Such a joyful time this has been for us three. And also such a time of learning & discovery. Becoming a parent is an enormous challenge for anyone. Becoming a parent when you suffer from a long term chronic illness makes things just that little more interesting.
So whilst much has had to be put on the back burner, just knowing this little place existed, was waiting patiently for me has been such a comfort. It’s been like an anchor, of sorts. Now one year on, it feels as if I am slowly emerging out of the mist of early motherhood.
And so I return to this little place. A place to gather all my crafts together, to delight in slow & sustainable wool. Wool that’s been grown, gathered, spun & dyed in our mountains: hand-spun on spindle & wheel, dyed with plants, knitted on my needles.
More news to come, no doubt. But first a night of sleep. And then a mug of steaming rooibos tea. Lots of rooibos.