The world's largest collection of blue wool* grows a little bigger.
Above is newly arrived Anzula Squishy from Meadow Yarn, while on its way to me is a little something from Miss Clack Clack whose wares I discovered just the other day; her inky, purpley blues especially are hard to resist.
"... He ground indigo leaves, pulped and dried them to a powder, mixed them with palygorskite and heated them in copal resin to a rich dark zaffre that could colour a night sky at that moment of dusk to dark. He fired ochre to the almost-black of midnight. Cooked white lead to the yellow of noon. Cooked it again to the red of dusk. He soaked saffron with egg white, transformed the scarlet stamens to citron golds. Discovered the magic of salt. Mixed it with mauve-tinged azures, violet reds. Boiled roots, and thickened the dye with turpentine and alum. He found vermilion sunsets in mercury sulphide, fired them to an orange cinnabar. He ground berries to a pulp, discovered purple when he mixed the juices with acid, ultramarine when he mixed them with alkaline. He ground up malachite, found cyan and celeste, celadon and olive. Ground up madder, found crimson, ruby and alizarin. Crushed azurite, inhaled lungfuls of deep blue, as if the air were now visible.
Then he bound these colours, set them, with gesso, plaster, linseed oil, sap from cherry trees and resin from sweet pines. He melted wax. Dabbed at his creations with paintbrushes made from fine horsehair, and swept colours across reams of white parchment paper, over and over, until he'd sought out some arcane perfection. His pigments were luminous and brilliant. They did not fade in the sun, in the wind or the rain. They lifted skies and made rich the blue red earth."
My marmalade is done, and it is certainly the best batch I've ever made - the set perfect, the distribution of peel even, the taste well balanced - so all credit to Sarah Randell's recipe. As to yield, 1kg of oranges has given me enough to fill 3 of the 1/2 litre Le Parfait jars you see above, 2 smaller ones, and 2 standard jam jars.
I like a recipe which begins "Turn on the radio," and that's where you start with the Classic Seville Orange Marmalade from Sarah Randell's excellent book for which I did all the preparation today. The book doesn't just tell you how to make marmalade, though its instructions are detailed and clear, it also includes a great selection of recipes for both savoury and sweet dishes in which marmalade is an ingredient, so if you find you struggle to get through your annual batch on toast, this 'bittersweet cookbook' could help you make the most of it.
As the snow falls, Isle Yarns' toothsome Poll Dorset DK is becoming a hat. It will be lined with soft-as-soft handspun alpaca from Wychwood Alpacas (via The Oxford Yarn Store). The project bag is from Jenna Rose.
"The floor was well-worn red brick, and on the wide hearth burnt a fire of logs, between two attractive chimney-corners tucked away in the wall, well out of any suspicion of draught. A couple of high-backed settles, facing each other on either side of the fire, gave further sitting accommodation for the sociably disposed. In the middle of the room stood a long table of plain boards placed on trestles, with benches down each side. At one end of it, where an arm-chair stood pushed back, were spread the remains of Badger's plain but ample supper. Rows of spotless plates winked from the shelves of the dresser at the far end of the room, and from the rafters overhead hung hams, bundles of dried herbs, nets of onions and baskets of eggs. It seemed a place where heroes could fitly feast after victory, where weary harvesters could line up in scores along the table and keep their Harvest Home with mirth and song, or where two or three friends of simple tastes could sit about as they pleased and eat and smoke and talk in comfort and contentment. The ruddy brick floor smiled up at the smoky ceiling; the oaken settles, shiny with long wear, exchanged cheerful glances with each other; plates on the dresser grinned at pots on the shelf, and the merry firelight flickered and played over everything without distinction."
"The Kitchen, described in these terms, is as universal a symbol as the River. Whereas the River is the expression of the adult Arcadia, with its challenges and its rules and its excitements, the Kitchen suggests another kind of Golden Age.
Its appeal is multiple. It hints at the mead-halls of such poems as Beowulf ... To Grahame's generation it must also have had William Morris-like hints of an earlier, pre-industrial, and therefore ideal society where distinctions of class seemed unimportant when food was being dealt out, and men of all ranks sat together in the lord's hall or by the yeoman farmer's hearthside. And, more sharply for Edwardian readers than for those of the present day, there is a suggestion too of a return to childhood. Many of Grahame's generation spent much of their early life being cared for by domestic servants, and so as small children lingered often in the kitchen, watching the pots and the joints of meat cooking on the great ranges or spits."
There are other excerpts from the book here and here, an interview with Robert Ingpen here, and if the above appeals, this post might, too.
If you've followed this blog for a long time you'll have seen quite a few of these -
the front door wreath made from whatever the garden will yield.
It seems fitting that at this turning point of the year we gather greenery and look forward, so decking our door are sprigs of pine, ivy, rosemary, bay, lavender, box, periwinkle, pyracantha, and one or two rosebuds.