Congrats everyone, we survived whatever the end of November has become! As someone who doesn’t even live in a country that celebrates thanksgiving it’s truly bewildering to see how in just a few years out of the blue it has become an overwhelming capitalist hellscape spectacle. But I digress; with this being the tail end of autumn and with winter, the solstice and holidays rapidly approaching I thought I’d come here to talk and update you all about what I’ve been up to and making during the season of falling leaves, pumpkins (and spice) and all things nice!
In these parts autumn was a slow starter this year, as we closed in on November and we still had lots of trees outside that were decidedly green due to the warm weather we’d been having. This made for quite the odd outing as you could walk through a street were everything was green, whereas the next was all out in autumnal splendour. November has been colder and in response the trees have been colouring and losing their leaves rapidly in an apparent bid to catch up with the season. The result is somewhat a return to normality for this time of year.
The up side to the relatively warm autumn has been that it was a magnificent time for spotting toadstools outside! Highlights include meeting a huge bolete, with a stem broader than the width of my foot, spotting more birch polypore, turkey tails, sulphur tufts, parasol mushrooms, amethyst deceiver and stag’s horn fungus during a walk than I could keep count of and musing on the local names for different mushrooms and how the English names compare to how I know them in my mother tongue. This autumn I’ve been working on improving my tree and foliage knowledge and better identify tree species and subspecies by their leaves and bark etc. It makes me a more attentive and aware forest wanderer as well as photographer and sketcher. I’ve become better acquainted with the species in my direct environment as well as in often walked woodland trails. It’s been interesting to see how many species are actually native to this area and which are introduced and musing what that actually means when some of these species were introduced 100s of years ago. In part it has been a contemplative autumn as you can tell with lots of musing and thinking about things.
Disaster struck at the start of autumn when my arm started to hurt a lot with RSI-like ailments. This came at the back of a period of a lot of computer work and I knew I basically had to stop doing anything and let it rest until the pain was gone. This was quite hard as pretty much anything that I like doing is heavy on the wrists; knitting, spinning, embroidery, writing, drawing, tablet weaving, sewing, all came to a stand still for a while (boo!). Instead I spend my time reading a lot and going for walks. Luckily I slowed down on time and avoided being out of the running for a much longer period but after slowly building things up I’m now back on my crafty feet again. Luckily I had a big enough pile of books to help me through!
For most of autumn my sole knitting project has been the Oregon Cardigan. I’ve really been loving working on it and I feel that, when I actually am able to knit on it, it progresses quite smoothly. I had hoped and sort of pushed myself to finish it within the autumn season for the splendidly over the top autumnal vibes those photos would yield, but since my arm pain and the weeks of rest I’ve taken I’ve let go of that goal and now it just get finished when it’s finished. I am (predictably) loving the moody heathered Shetland colour that I’m knitting it with and enjoyed knitting autumn while autumn was happening outside.
In November I cast on another project, a pair of socks for my partner. I offered to make him a pair of mittens for the holidays (I’ve been in a massive mitten mood this autumn, a whim I’ve sadly not been able to follow yet) to which he in a small and polite voice suggested that I could also knit him another pair of socks if I’d like. So socks it is! He wears the pairs I knit him so far all the time so I know that this pair will be loved too. The yarn for this year’s December socks are a less snazzy colour explosion than what he picked last year; a very beautiful forest green shade and a sandy colour for contrast. If the pair isn’t done in time for the holidays they will just get redirected to the following birthday at the end of January. In above photo of the yarn you can hazard a guess to the the pattern/ theme of the socks, and below you can see a little peek of how I’m getting on with it.
I finished the owl embroidery I was doing when I last talked about my embroidery. I think it’s my most atmospheric stitching I’ve done so far and finishing it in early autumn with the dark drawing in closer couldn’t have been better timed. I’ve since progressed to stitching a toadstools and snail scene and really feel I’m bringing autumn into the house with this one. Between knitting on my Oregon cardigan, my partner’s socks and stitching toadstools I’m making it very obvious what season has my heart don’t I? I’m really liking embroidering seasonal pieces in step with those seasons so I’m hoping to finish working on this in the next few days so I can start an atmospheric wintery one in tandem with winter starting.
If I had a duffle
I’m excited to tell you about my main sewing project for the past wees
, which has been working on project “winter coat”. I’m as the name of the project implies indeed working on sewing a winter coat for myself…or two actually! This project has been on my mind for quite a while, years really, and last winter my parents gifted me enough yardage of a beautiful dark blue Shetland wool fabric for this project. However as I’ve never sewn a winter coat (or any type of coat before) I was hesitant to just start cutting in that fabric and potentially ruining the fabric and project. So I first made a wearable test version of the coat in a similar weight cheaper fabric to practise the techniques and see about the fit. Working on this has been more fun than I thought it would be, but it’s definitely a time commitment and has filled my sewing time for the past many weeks. I’ve just finished my test version of the coat and been making a point to wear it out a couple of times, so I can really take stock of the changes I want to make, before I go and cut out the fabric for the “proper” version.
The coat is a duffle style and I am very excited to finally be working on this project as it’s been a long time coming, a winter coat has been long on my project wish list and seems one of those big sewing bucket list things to cross off. Moreover I’m in desperate need of a well fitting winter coat and, while it is just the wearable toile, I’m glad to have one now that the real freeze is slowly kicking. I’ll be moving on quickly towards sewing “proper” coat, but hope to be able to show you and talk about the one I’ve just finished before the year is out (fingers crossed).
Spinning and Tablet Weaving
With my spinning I’m still working on my Zwartbles tweed experiment. I’m shooting for a bigger quantity this time, possibly enough to make a sweater. I finished spinning and plying a massive skein the other day, and had already spun a couple of skeins prior. However will need to prepare more fibre to spin up some more to get the bigger quantity of yarn I’m aiming for. I love working with the Zwartbles tweed and am eager to use it again in the future for more projects.
With my tablet weaving I’ve upgraded to actual tablet weaving cards (as opposed to the playing cards with punched in holes I was using) and to a wooden shuttle! This has done wonders for my weaving, especially the weaving cards which are bigger than the playing cards, have made the entire process of weaving so much smoother. Despite having woven since the summer I’m still very much in the early stages of learning. That said I’m am slowly progressing to more difficult bands and am currently weaving one of the Birka bands found at the excavation site with the same name of an important Viking trading and settlement area.
Bulbs for Spring
Over the past few weeks the garden has been winding down for the colder months. I mean some stuff stubbornly went on until late November (the flowering on the Nastrium has been wild this year!) but the main focus in the garden has been cleaning up and planning and preparing the balcony for the next cycle. I’ve been noting down what went really well this year and what I want to do differently for the next year. The main excitement has been planting spring bulbs! I’ve fond memories of doing this as a child with my mum, but this is the first time I’m doing it myself as an adult and I’m beyond excited about it!
Planting spring bulbs if one of those things that, if you are not into gardening, doesn’t sound as an autumn thing but very much is an autumn thing. We mainly got bulbs that are known to be good for and attract pollinators and made sure to get a variety of bulbs that bloom in different periods so the pollinators have something going for them for a longer period as that is the main reason for planting them for us. We also got some tulip varieties, I think they revoke your rights to garden in this country if you plant bulbs sans tulips. I hope they will do well next spring so the balcony will be full of activity and colour while the seedlings for later in the year grow inside.
Autumn has also meant the return of the balcony birds, as if by clockwork, they turned up at the beginning of October returning from their summer holiday and by end of the the month they started visiting daily. At the start of November we hung a birdhouse on the wall of the balcony for them to use over winter to sleep for the night. I had planned to put some raw fleece from my spinning endeavours in the box but I read that in winter birds prefer clean empty houses where they can huddle in with a big group. I’ve spotted some small bird varieties in the neighbourhood this autumn that I hadn’t seen before so that’s been exciting as well.
That’s it from me for now. I hope for a cosy and craft, bird and spruce filled December month for all of us. Hope you’re all well and until next time!