One of the things I like about winter is that with the brightness and intense colour of summer and early autumn gone, it invites exploration of more subtle, neutral shades and encourages me to focus on pattern and detail that might otherwise go unremarked. I've found myself sidetracked unexpectedly in these darkening winter days to search out the colours of lichen, bark, moss and ice and the simple yet intricate designs they seem to highlight in everything...
... in these frilled wrist-warmers, hooked in Louisa Harding "Grace" yarn in "Frost"
... in the duck-egg blue lichen adorning the bare branches of my old apple tree
... or in both
The wrist-warmers are made from Sue Pinner's pattern from her Granny Square Pattern Club. (Details of how to join are in Sue's sidebar here, if you'd like to know more) I've made two other pairs for Christmas presents - they look wonderful on your hands as the lacy frills make your fingers look very long and slender - a trick Anne Boleyn knew and capitalised on, all the time!
... in the worn lace edging on an old tablecloth made by my great-grandmother, highlighted by the light from a candle on a gloomy afternoon
... in the broken texture of a unusually shaped, large, shallow basket left over from a work event and destined for the bin, until rescued by me, for new life, as a yarn-basket
... in the fabric I found to line it, which in some lights looks quite grey
... and in others much more turquoise
... in old leaves and grass-blades stitched with frost
... in the homely crinkles and folds of paper that encase my Christmas cake
... in chocolate and orange cupcakes cooling on a wire rack which, despite my general aversion to coloured icing, I find I am very often drawn to ice in lichen shades of pale blue and top with white sugar snowflakes - just because! The recipe is Nigella Lawson's Christmas Cupcakes in "How To Be A Domestic Goddess" tweaked to omit the coffee, which I replace with a teaspoonful of orange oil or orange zest. I recommend them - they are light, spicy, fragrant and Christmassy without being over-the-top. A permissible Advent foretaste of the glories of the proper Christmas cake to come? I think so!
I find the austerity of this kind of winter palette is somehow very cleansing - perhaps not inappropriate for the first week in Advent when I habitually find I am moved to rethink and reevaluate some of the jumbled, pell-mell tangle of my life. A good primer, if you like, for the soul's canvas, that will hopefully make the deeper, more vivid tones of Christmas jollities glow more brightly, when they come to be applied in the not too distant future. I never used to bother with painting things with a coat of pale primer first before applying colour but I have discovered it makes a big difference. And as with paint on wood, so with space and clearance for the spirit, perhaps. What do you think?