Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Making the Seasons: February

Hello from a very cold Hampshire, where temperatures have dropped to well below freezing and snow flurries cause mild excitement/panic in children and adults. It's the most perfect winter weather: bitterly cold, dry and sunny, although we've yet to experience a proper snow fall down here on the south coast. I'll be honest - I am just desperate for a snow day, I really am. There's a chance we might get some tomorrow or Friday - fingers crossed.

Thank you so much for my birthday wishes! You are all very kind. I still haven't had time to play with my new camera (I honestly have not had a moment - my feet haven't touched the ground this last week) so I'm afraid we've got phone photos today, but please don't let that put you off because I am full of the joys of crafting this month and have loved these little activities.

Welcome to February's Making the Seasons post. In this annual project, my friend Lucy of Attic24 and I are consciously trying to make time in our busy lives to focus on achievable, seasonal creative projects. This month, I have focused on two small and wonderfully wintry projects: completing the Winterberries hoop which came in the winter Craftpod box, and crocheting another warm and cosy chunky colour block cowl.

I so enjoyed the Winterberries hoop. It took a while - each berry had to be painstakingly outlined in tiny stitches before you could fill them in - but there was something deliciously addictive about those little satin stitch berries, the way you built up the texture with layers of thread, going over and over until the berries shine.

They create a wonderfully three dimensional effect and pop out from that snowy white background. For now it's just propped up on the mantel but I'm gathering a little collection of different hoops, cross stitched and embroidered, that I want to hang in a group together somewhere.

The cowl is the same one that I made for a friend before Christmas, and I like it because it's a very easy pattern, so it can be crocheted in the car or in front of the TV with minimal concentration. The 10 mm hook and chunky yarn mean that it's quick to make, which is handy when you need a gift in a hurry, and it uses precisely three balls of Drops Andes yarn which come in a great range of colours and are well priced. It's also very warm.

But the main reason I like it is because it looks amazing on, with just the right amount of drape and fold around the neck (and I really will make myself one of these one day) and the chunky yarn has a nice structure to it. But this pink, grey and white beauty was a gift for my friend and birthday twin Helen, who turned forty last week too. We travelled up to Yorkshire at the weekend and stayed in the pretty town of Holmfirth to celebrate Helen's birthday, and also caught up with lots of University friends who we had not seen for years while we were there. It was a fantastic weekend, just John and I, no children or dog. Of course we had fun chatting, laughing, drinking and dancing with our friends, but an accidental highlight of the weekend was the journey there and back. Just the two of us in the car, talking and listening to music or the radio, with very little traffic on the roads, and the sun shining the way there and back. John did most of the driving and so I sat and enjoyed the moment and did first some knitting (a jumper) and then some cross stitch.

At the last moment, just as we were about to leave the house, and quite excited at the possibility of some crafting time during daylight hours, I threw my Alicia Paulson My Sweetiepie ABCs sampler into my bag. I started this one a couple of years ago and made great progress until, for some reason I can't remember, I lost interest and put it away. I got it out briefly last summer and worked on it a little but my heart really wasn't in it. But last weekend, as I stitched all the details in the house, I really fell in love with it again. Cross stitch is so incredibly relaxing, providing you're in the mood for it. It takes a long time to sew each motif, but the colours are so pleasing and the little images so delightful, it's the most mindful kind of crafting. Nothing to think about but what the pattern is telling you to do.

Look at the house, with it's terracotta roof tiles and plumes of smoke. Each motif has the same slightly nostalgic quality and attention to detail. I don't mind telling you that I am really looking forward to stitching the kettle and the patchwork quilt.

Cross stitch, I love you.

This series of Making the Seasons posts is really making me think about what I like to craft and when. I'm thinking ahead to Easter and gardening projects for March and April, perhaps something wearable for May or June, but in those quiet midwinter months I seem to search out something peaceful and almost meditative. It doesn't have to be yarn-filled and snuggly (although that's nice) but it's more about making time to stop and be still. 

Please do pop over to Lucy's blog to read her February post  and say hello. That's exactly what I'm going to do now. 


  1. You've done a lot of nice things this month. I enjoyed making the Sweetiepie sampler but not as much as Winterwoods or Midsummer Sprigs. I thought both of those were more exciting, but I like all of them, really. The cowl is really nice, very warm as well as stylish. It sounds like you had a nice weekend away, lucky you.

  2. Lovely, especially Alicia's sampler, I think that is my favourite one of hers. I like something quiet and peaceful to make in winter too. I wish I managed more cross stitch, it is one of my favourite things when it's done, but it's tricky to lay out with a puppy around. CJ xx

  3. The winter berries are soooo beautiful! I want something like that in my living room now!
    As for the cross stitch sampler, the little house is lovely, but I can not work out what the pictures for m and n are, and the one to the left of the house.
    Your Yorkshire weekend sounds great! But crafting in the car, handling needles (knitting, crocheting, stitching) while in a moving vehicle...? My Mum would never even allow us to draw in the car, for fear we'd hurt ourselves with a pen if my Dad had to break suddenly or something like that.

  4. So many lovely things! The cowl looks super snugly and I'm sure your friend will appreciate it all the more given the current weather! The cross stitch is beautiful too - my daughters' dolls house looks just like that and in the same colour blue too! We made it for L's second Christmas and, despite the fact that they are now 24 and 20, can't bear to get rid of it. Glad you enjoyed your weekend away. xx

  5. Great post & the berries hoop is so simple, & that's all it takes to make something very smart looking. You & Lucy both seem to have got the cross-stitch bug, so look forward to seeing what you both come up with. Take care & stay warm.

  6. I love love love how in tune we both are, yet how different the outcomes somehow! Your style is so unique and recognisable, I admire your taste and pared back sense of style enormously.....I always feel very chaotic in comparison! Maybe I should say eclectic rather than chaotic, makes me sound a bit better hahaha!!! Cross stitch has me in it's grips, I am so surprised by how much I am enjoying it. Although it is so lovely to swap between the needle and hook as my mood alters throughout the day - nothing beats the peace of hooking a few stripes sat in bed at the close of the day, it's my therapy.I wonder what March will bring? Something Eastery perhaps? I feel like I want to crochet a herd of pretty rabbits!!!
    All the love my friend, I'm so glad to know you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  7. I love your embroidery and cross stitch Gillian, it's beautiful. I used to do cross stitch many years ago but it's been sadly neglected. Your crochet is looking good too, pretty colours and relaxing to make I'm sure. Marking the seasons are enjoyable posts, thanks for sharing, Cathy x

  8. I have a little cross stitch on the go at the moment and it is indeed relaxing. I LOVE drops yarn, your cowl is a lovely gift. Jo x

  9. Beautiful February makes... the cowl looks so cosy. Do hope you find some time to make your very own soon. Fingers crossed for a snow day!

  10. so many pretty things you make.


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