Winter regnum – a time for crafting

Christmas is over and we are in the strange inbetween time when not a lot happens until after New Year’s Day. I like one suggestion I heard on the radio for a name for this period: the winter regnum. The weather is still curiously mild, with the result that, even here in Yorkshire, daffodils are not only several inches above ground but some have noticeably yellow buds. The honeysuckle in our garden has green shoots all over it and primroses are flowering. Sooner or later we’ll have a cold snap and everything will get a nasty shock.

The mild temperatures are a consequence of the cloudy skies. At times like this, I’m glad I live half way up a hill, far enough above the Wharfe to be safe from fluvial flooding. On Boxing Day York flooded badly, mainly as a result of the deliberate opening of the River Fosse flood barrier, a decision that will no doubt be subject to intense scrutiny once the flood waters have receded.

Floods in York aren’t news, the city is inundated from its larger river, the Ouse, on a regular basis, and has been since time immemorial. But parts of Leeds also flooded on Boxing Day, a much rarer occurrence. If we wanted to go into Leeds at present, we couldn’t – the main road route into the city from this direction, Kirkstall Road, looked like a river for a period and the trains from Airedale and Wharfedale have stopped running because the line is under water in that area. Not that I went anywhere near – far too wet – I stayed at home and watched the devastation on YouTube. Two days later, not much has changed; we still have no rail service into Leeds and Kirkstall Road remains closed. I pity the poor commuters tomorrow, having to try and find a way to get to work.

Gloves x 2

I may be getting cabin fever as a result of days of rain-induced confinement, but at least I have been productive. The fingerless mittens for my recorder-playing sister-in-law are finished and are being blocked.

Recorder mitts blockingThey are taking ages to dry, being quite thick and woolly and the weather being too dreadful to hang them outside. I’m definitely going to knit myself a pair of gloves using the same Hands of Blue pattern, once I’ve finished the Io gloves that I have on the go.

And hats x 2

I’ve also made a quick owl beanie for my niece. These cabled owls are popping up everywhere – I know someone who is knitting the Kate Davies jumper with an owly yoke, and there’s also a pattern for be-owled mittens that is doing the rounds.

Owls beanie blockingThe hat is also blocking at the moment. All I could find that was around the right size was a pudding basin and Pyrex dish combo. It’s not really the right shape at all, I just pray the hat becomes less flowerpot-like when it’s worn. The yarn is pure alpaca DK.

The owls aren’t that obvious right now, but I’m going to sew on tiny pearl beads for their eyes. I’d have preferred to knit them in, but there’s no way the yarn would go through the holes in the beads.

Having got to grips with the tubular cast-on for the recorder mitts, I used it for this hat too and surprised myself by remembering how to do it without having to look it up again. It was definitely muscle memory at work, if I stopped to think what was next my mind was a blank, but somehow my hands knew what to do.

I need to make another hat for my niece, one that is more of a direct replacement for the one her boyfriend has appropriated. I’m going to use the same pattern as before, Hipster by Rosalind Aymes, but I’ll make it slightly smaller. It’s a simple rib in a chunky yarn and won’t take long.

Itajime dyeing

Itajime-dyed scarfI took the opportunity afforded by a few days’ holiday to write up a dyeing project. Some time ago I discovered itajime, a tie-dye-like technique that can create amazing geometric patterns. You fold the fabric, or garment, that you want to dye and clamp resists onto it. The dye doesn’t penetrate where the resists are, creating repeating patterns.

The example I used to illustrate my itajime Instructable is a silk scarf dyed with woad, but the technique can be used with any fabric as long as an appropriate dye is chosen. Some day I’d like to experiment with more sophisticated folding – I just folded the scarf into a strip in one direction and then folded that the other way.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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