I love this time of year so much. I feel like, now that that Christmas and New Year are out of the way, I can really relax and enjoy these slower winter months. I like getting out as often as I can at the weekend, I like the wintry light and bare trees, I love that if you look carefully you can spot so much colour in amongst the monochrome winter palate and subtle signs of spring to come. I like weekends that involve cooking, crafting and walking in the woods or by the sea, and I love the feeling or refresh and reboot that January brings. No ridiculous lifestyle changes, and certainly no Dry January thank you very much (if ever a month called for a glass of red in front of the fire it was this one), but there is a new energy and a sense of anticipation for the coming year.
I recently finished a crochet shawl, or rather re-finished it. It was - is - the South Bay Shawlette, which I made almost four years ago and, despite thinking I was never a shawl wearer, have probably worn it more than any other thing I made, ever.
Unfortunately, a couple of months ago, a certain whippet got into a bit of a tangle with my shawl. It's unlike him to go for woollens, preferring as he does shoes and sunglasses, but this lovingly crocheted item ended up with a big hole about a third of the way in.
I was able to pull back the shawl to just beyond the damaged area, saving most of the yarn as a I went, and then re-crochet it. I'd lost a couple of rows where the hole was so I bought another skein of the lovely yarn but in an off-white and added those at the end as a border.
The re-used yarn was a little crinkly after spending so long set in crochet stitches and I was worried it might look funny but blocking was, as ever, transformative, and gave the whole shawl the most beautiful drape which it had started to lose through such regular wear.
And now I feel like I have a whole new handmade item of clothing in my wardrobe and I think I love it even more with this white edging than I did before. Thank you Ziggy, but please don't ever chew up my reading glasses again.
I have a renewed focus on this Goldenrod Sweater and have been working on it a little every night. I am determined that this will be a sweater that is not finished at the start of summer, and that I can wear it this winter. Or spring, at least.
After all that Christmas baking, my food cupboards were full of opened and half used packets of dried fruits, nuts, pulses and all sorts besides, and I was getting sick of wondering which badly-sealed packet of seeds was going to fall out on me as I rummaged for something, scattering themselves all over me, the worktop and the floor. So I spent a very pleasant couple of hours at the weekend emptying out these cupboards, wiping the shelves and the bottoms of jars (golden syrup gets everywhere), checking use by dates, and decanting these plastic packets into jam and kilner jars, whatever I could find in the garage. Of course, so that I didn't get my marshmallows muddled up with my lentils, my new toy, a Dymo embosser labeller, was essential. This little thing is the most fun, I want to label absolutely everything with it.
I have recently started making my own kitchen cleaner from vinegar, water and lemon essential oil, and the labels were used here too. I am pretty far from being an eco warrior but I am deeply suspicious of any cleaning spray - kitchen or bathroom - that makes me cough, as so many of them do. I'll let you know how we get on with my homemade cleaner. Incidentally, if you use Instagram and are interested in reducing your waste and living slightly more simply, I cannot recommend enough this account: Small Sustainable Steps by Amanda (who used to blog as Vintage Sheet Addict many moons ago, some of you may have followed her then). It's full of the most practical and useful advice and suggestions, and I have found it very inspiring, especially her recipes for kitchen and bathroom cleaner and chemical free cleaning. I'm not ready to chuck out the bleach just yet, but baby steps.
Finally, here's a joyful pop of rainbow colour after all those tasteful, muted tones:
I recently made this colourful woven wall hanging for my friend Abigail, lover of rainbows, as a late Christmas present, using lots of small amounts of mulitcoloured roving I bought some time ago.
It reminds me about that roving I bought a couple of weeks ago, and that big old picture frame that I want to re-purpose as a loom....yes, I definitely have that new year feeling.