blackberries in September

Late Summer

path next to arable field in late summer

Late summer is beguiling and wistful. The days are sunny (mostly) and reasonably long but the high summer heat and dust of harvest are over. The landscape has a fabulously wild and unkempt air as parched grasses and weeds grow knee high, seeds scattering in the wind and the stubble fields are roughly tickled, no longer a swathe of regimented wheat plants. Slowly, the first signs of autumn are tentatively creeping in as the berries in the hedgerows belatedly turn colour and the first tiny conkers fall to the ground.

log that looks like a crocodile floating in a pond

And crocodiles broken branches float in the pond.

skeins of naturally dyed wool

Over the summer, I’ve been dyeing with plants and now it’s time to start planning what to knit with all the yarn. A few years ago, I became very frustrated with natural dyeing as everything seemed to be a different shade of beige, which is not my favourite colour. This year, I’ve managed to get a few more colours using nettles, walnut husks, blackthorn twigs, knapweed, rhurbarb leaves, oak galls, avocado stones and alchemilla mollis as well as some solar dyeing with hollyhock flowers (beautiful greens but I’m not sure the colour will last). I have vague thoughts of knitting a fair isle jumper or tank top – heavily influenced by stumbling upon an episode of All Creatures Great and Small in which half the cast seemed to be wearing such items. If I start now, then maybe it will be finished in time for cold winter days. Though possibly not this winter.

blackberries in September

Every year, late summer brings a desire to lay down supplies for autumn and winter. I usually find it ridiculous that I have this hard-wired drive to stock the pantry and freezer when abundant supplies are a click or short distance away. But then last year happened and in lockdown, a well-stocked pantry suddenly seemed rather appealing. So, there will be a few jars of Raspberry Jam and Apple Chutney. Maybe some Blackberry & Apple compote in the freezer and some Hedgerow Gin. Not too much, because (finally) my brain has absorbed the fact that there are only two of us in the house now but enough to make me think I’m well prepared. Just in case. Even though jam and chutney could hardly be termed Essential. I think we can agree that Gin has a place on the Essentials list.

11 thoughts on “Late Summer

  1. Andy Randall

    I love the colours of your dyed wools. I would like to see the finished tank top! Off course gin should be on the essentials list, especially hedgerow gin, sounds delicious.

  2. Anne

    Anne, love your writing and beautiful photos bringing your countryside & productive life to me on the mid-north coast of NSW where we are well and truly into Spring, definitely starts with August not September here. All that preserving and jam making so worthwhile as your homemade will always be better than what’s in any supermarket, so rewarding. With covid so good not to have to go out more than one has to, although even shopping provides a bit of relief from our restricted life these days.
    Gin essential! One must be able to warm up and cheer up in your cold winter evenings in front of a crackling fire

  3. Kay

    Great to hear from you again, yes I know the feeling about stocking up the freezer with all the goodies from the kitchen garden and from foraging, really satisfying.
    Love the colours of your dyed wool, tank tops bring back lots of happy memories.

    • I saw a photo of some trendy youngster in a crocheted tank top the other day. I’d completely forgotten about them and it’s been so long since they were fashionable that it looked rather good.

  4. Josephine

    The colours of those yarns are beautiful – am not at all surprised they have set your fingers itching to start knitting. If you are unsure about Fairisle, take a look at Kaffe Fassett’s Glorious Knitting. His approach is less formal and regimented than Fairisle, particularly where “lapses inconcentration” are concerned! Instead he encourages the colours and the knitter to have fun together with fabulous results. Whatever you decide, with those yarns the end result is bound to be stunning. Enjoy the process.

    • I’ve borrowed that book from the library in the past. Thanks for the reminder. I’ve almost finished a traditional fair isle hat and there were rather too many lapses in concentration so I think I may need to follow his ideas.

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