Glorious patchwork

Patchwork of squares and hexagns

Some people are never seen without pen or pencil in their hands – or if you’re the vicar it’s a whole assortment of writing implements both in hand and spilling out of an overful shirt pocket. For other people permanent attachment comes in the form of  a can of Diet Coke, a glass of wine or a cigarette (though less and less with the cigarette nowadays, thank goodness). My children are permanently attached to their mobile phones – to the extent that they have few clocks in their houses and 3 out of 4 wear no watch. With me my particular passion attaches me to a needle (or needles since I took up knitting) and I am frequently  quilted with a bosom full of pins as well. I expected no inheritance of this acquired characteristic so I have been delighted that at least 2 of my 4 children have come to enjoy needlework almost as much as I do (I suspect daughter No 1 may also quite like it too but it’s not a priority for her right now.)

Detail of patchwork of squares and hexagons

Daughter No 3 is making the patchwork shown here into a computer case for daughter No 2 (at present working in Erbil in Iraq and likely to stay there for sometime since the Kurd’s recent vote for independence has panicked the government into closing the airport until the 29th of December). Daughter No 2 is meanwhile working on a quilt for granddaughter No 1, her new niece but we have seen no pictures of this. Where quilts are concerned I’m a bit of a purist. I like to see them on beds or on walls. This smallish patchwork has hooked me – eyes and brain rove rapidly over it seeking connections among the chopped up patterns of fabrics held within a not always visible grid. I’d really prefer to see it on a wall, looking at it is so soothing, almost meditative. But as it’s not mine to give I’ll content myself with photographs.

Detail of patchwork of squares and hexagons

To celebrate the last day of daughter No 1’s maternity leave, four of us (daughters 1 & 3 and youngling No 2) went to Ottolenghi’s Islington eaterie for lunch (jewel bright salads, in fact something of edible patchwork delighting sight, smell, taste – and even touch if you’re  5 months old and curious with it).  The restaurant is very good about babies – there was already one horizontal in a pram as we entered and another came in just behind us. If you’re early and it’s not madly busy they’ll always find you an end of table where a pram or buggy  can be near but not causing an obstruction. Our baby was delighted with a new social milieu; she spent the meal upright, out of the buggy, busy about her self-appointed task of catching people’s eyes and flirting wherever possible. One woman, dining alone nearby was particularly smiley. I had taken out some hand sewing and as she left she chatted about the joy of making things. Her family were great makers too, in fact, she said, her daughter had a shop nearby selling wools and such like, we might have heard of it. Did we know Loop?! ! We asked her where she lived. “Manhattan … no, I mean Muswell Hill. I haven’t lived in Manhattan for  16 years!”  A brief and delightful encounter –  yeast in the bread of urban living.

Detail of patchwork of squares and hexagons

An old fashioned English patchwork done on papers, left over Liberty fabrics are mixed in with bits of her father’s old shirts, several Vietnamese fabrics and the odd piece of Japanese fabric from Berwick Street.

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And yet another jumper with Fair Isle bands

 

Jumper with Fair Isle bands (basic jumper without Fair Isle is from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino Book 5)

Nearly 2 weeks ago I came to London by train for granny duties during the political party conference season and the train journey was very useful for weaving in the looses ends on this jumper so that it would be ready to give to my grandson on arrival – a good way to use up what otherwise can feel like dead time! Making this jersey has been a bit of a lesson in what you should never do when knitting garments. The back was knitted from a ball of pristine red wool while a ball of  crinkly wool of the same colour (previously knitted into an unfinished baby coat ) remained for the front. (Wrong way round surely!) Later bought balls of what I thought were the same wool (same colour, different dye lot of course) were set aside for the sleeves and now these look quite different from the body – but at least both sleeves are the same so, honestly, do I care and how many would have noticed if I hadn’t said anything? The colour is bright and jolly and suggests warmth at the very least. Youngling No 1 has worn it to school several times (and forgotten in once) and he seemed very cosy in it last Sunday on our drizzly trip to London zoo.

Jumper with Fair Isle bands (basic jumper without Fair Isle is from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino Book 5)

Jumper with Fair Isle bands (basic jumper without Fair Isle is from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 5

As with the jumper in teal shown here, the pattern used is the two colour raglan sweater from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino Book 5. My only complaint about this much used pattern is that I find the neck a bit too wide – perhaps next time I shalln’t pick up so many stitches at the front between the raglan edge and the stitches left on the needle holder? For details of the Fair isle see here.

Boy with conker collection. Jumper with Fair Isle bands (basic jumper without Fair Isle is from Debbie Bliss’s Baby Cashmerino Book 5)

Jumper with Fair Isle bands (basic jumper without Fair Isle is from Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Book 5

Autumn has come with a vengeance. In Cheltenham our little apple tree has been shrugging – no throwing – its apples off which hit the wooden decking beneath like small cannon balls. In the middle of the night you could be woken by the noise of a particularly rapid sequence of missiles, especially when zinc planters received random bombardment and rang with a bright metallic clunk. In Islington the neighbour’s prolifically fruitful pear tree was causing a different problem. No heavy thudding or metallic ringing, instead a slurpy plop and a generous splatter of pulpy pear. A tarpaulin was hauled over the new sandstone paving for protection which made the patio look like a return to the builder’s yard it had been all too short a time ago. The little pond’s cleansing mechanism found the pear tree’s largesse too much to deal with and gave up – fortunately there are as yet no fish. Bad weather kept us inside for a day or two and by the time we ventured out again the fallen pears were fermenting and the journey between back door and garden office left you a touch inebriated. Next year I’m going to find one of those long armed fruit pickers and try to nip the fruit off the trees before aerial bombardment begins. The horse chestnuts have done well too, as youngling No 1’s collection of 66 specimens testifies. Oh if only we could cope better with nature’s generosity!

 

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