Episode 17 of the podcast is now live.
Lace, a practical luxury
I share the ins and out of a couple of ornate lace shawls I knit this summer.
The Asana Shawl by Helen Stewart (aka Curious Handmade) is intended as a dressy crescent shawl with a lace pattern that reminds me of ornate arches. I knit this is in the deep pomegranate red of John Arbon’s Harvest Hues 4-ply, a blend of organically farmed Falkland Merino and Devon Zwartbles.
The Tickled by Your Smile shawl by Yellowcosmo is a longer, more shallow crescent shawl, with a lace motif that is reminiscent of ironwork or a stylised thorn hedge. I knit this shawl in Baa Ram Ewe’s PIP Colourwork, in the Dalby green colour. I made this shawl to wrap round my neck whilst working in a damp garden or clay studio. Prettiness in such mundane settings may seem unnecessary but why not added a touch of beauty to practical wears. And for all its prettiness lace has a practical purpose too. The holes in the knitted fabric means these accessories have a thermal quality.
Luscious fruit leather
This year I experimented with a new type of preserve: intense fruit leathers. These sweet treats are made out of thin layers of puréed fruit that are then slowly dehydrated. We made plum leather and apple and bramble leather out of gluts shared from friends and brambles foraged in our neighbourhood.
I used a couple of recipes from Alice Fowler’s The Edible Garden and Abundance as a starting point but there are lots of free recipes on the internet. Whilst the process is pretty simple, it is hard to be precise about measurements, flavourings and drying times as these depend on the sweetness of the fruit, personal taste and climatic conditions.
Luxury bathing fragrances
My gardening and food experiments this year also resulted in a luscious addition to my “bathroom cabinet”. I loathe artificial fragrance but have been using unprocessed and barely processed herbs around the home for years, like lavender in my linen drawers and sprigs of rosemary under the shower head. But this year I discovered scented pelargonium, in particular the Attar of Roses variety. I originally bought a plant for culinary purposes but realised it would also make a soothing, fragrant, indulgent addition to an evening bath.
As well as musing on the specifics of these kinds of little luxuries, I touch upon how such luxuries are not just an indulgence but also a way of taking care of ourselves for bigger battles and even little subversive acts against rampant consumerism.
All that remains is for me to wish everybody all the best for the festive season (whatever that looks like for you) and a very happy and healthy 2020.