Home for the Holidays

Glass Christmas tree bauble

Zebra decoration on Christmas tree

I know I’m not the only one who struggled to get home through the storm today. Lots of trains and boats, splashed sidewalks, and wet boots. Rows of passengers dripping wet on waiting room seats, and long queues for a cuppa.

It’s so good to get home, after riding stormy seas and marching rainy streets. I have a pile of books, some knitting to pick up, and nowhere I have to be, for at least a little while.

I hope you’re all tucked in well from the storm. Safe travels and happy holidays. xx

Log fire, christmas tree, and robin tree decoration photo collage

Presents under the tree

How to Mend a Christmas Jumper

Tom in his Christmas jumper

Tom’s reindeer jumper from Howies is certainly well-loved. It’s is his go-to woolly winter wear. So when he discovered both elbows worn through right before his school kids’ Christmas disco, something had to be done…

Worn woolly jumper and darning

Darning is easier than I had first thought. With some spare yarn and a yarn needle, simply stitch across the hole in a horizontal direction, before then going back over the hole in a vertical direction. If in doubt, watch a how-to video.

Tom was after leather elbow patches, but I’ve made that mistake before. Usually the leather is too stiff to sit well on a jumper. So, I found an old tweed skirt that was begging to be cut up. Cut two tweed ovals, pin them over the holes, and check they’re evenly spaced (no one wants wonky elbows). Then, stitch around them with a standard needle and thread (rolling up the sleeves makes this easier.)

Two tweed elbow patches done, so Tom shall indeed go to the ball, I mean, the school disco..

Bringing the Outdoors In

Christmas tree next to hearth mirror in black and white

My most favourite thing about this season is the excuse to fill the house with winter greenery. Sure, I have flowers in vases in the summer, and even the odd house plant that survives long-term neglect. But none of this compares with squeezing an entire tree in to your front room. And it just isn’t Christmas without the smell of pine needles.

This year we’ve found ourselves without an armchair (you’ll now find it in the new kitchen) and no way to buy one before Christmas. So we had the perfect excuse to fill half the room with a tree far too big to be sensible.

I felt seven years old all over again, feeling so excited about how ridiculous big our tree is. I loved last year’s tiny tree, but this is the real big-kid hang-your-stockings-santas-coming deal. I am revelling in it, and it hasn’t even got lights yet. The 25th is still a while away after all.

Christmas tree branch, with mirror and fairy lights

Singing in Wolverton Hall

Grand piano and armchair with classic oil paintings

Corridor and map of Wolverton Manor, Isle of Wight

December has arrived! There’s so many things that make me fall in love with this month: pine needles, sharp blue starry skies, wrapping paper with twine, and singing carols. We welcomed in 1 December with tangerine sugar’d mince pies, champagne, and a roaring fire. But the Christmas cheer started late November for me, singing in the fabulously atmospheric Wolverton Manor.

This grand old 17th century house is tucked away off a tiny lane out in the West Wight. The couple that live there hold concerts in their hall throughout the year. It’s perfect for a relaxed cheery festive celebration. The small audience all crowd in to the kitchen for wine in the interval, and the choir use the snug family lounge as the green room, warm from the wood burner and with every surface full of generations of photos.

The old fireplaces, creaky staircases, rambling rooms, and deserted wings give the whole place an air of Brambly Hedge’s Secret Staircase. And filling it with wintry songs really does make it feel like a midwinter festival. I’m ready to relish all the festivities of December, and I’m starting with this tune.

Camerate singing at Wolverton Manor November 2013

Christmas Crafting

Craft bag on a chair

I know it’s early guys, but really, it’s not that early.  Autumn is here in its full-on, golden richness and I’ve just got back in the mood to start knitting.  I was busy thinking about my favourite colours and what selfish knitting I might start next when an eager friend told me she’d already done lots of her Christmas shopping.  If it hadn’t been for her, I’d have bought that mound of burgundy wool I was planning for myself.  But instead, I’m getting my Christmas craft on.

I love making Christmas gifts of any sort: baking, drawing, stitching, brewing..  It gets me in the holiday spirit.  It’s a little early to go gung-ho on the festive cheer, even for me.  But I’m enjoying spending a little more time over some presents and being ahead of my usual November’s-end frantic rush .

Choose carefully to whom you give these made-with-love presents.  Some people are strangely bah-humbug about homemade, and no one wants that putdown all over their parcel.  But if you can find someone who delights in your creativity and appreciates your time more than your wallet, then you’ve found a worthy candidate.  Happy crafting!