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15.5.14

54 Cuckoo buds and gorse blossoms

Gorseflower dyed yarn.

"Cuckoo-buds of yellow hue ... do paint the meadows with delight" ... Shakespeare's perfect take on buttercups in Love's Labour's Lost. I heard 'our' cuckoo calling early this morning, for the first time this year, and later I picked buttercups from a meadow all awash with them. A good day.

"Mountain gorses ever-golden ... set as lights upon a hill" ... that's Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote an entire poem about the stuff. Not being given to verse I dyed yarn with it*. Pretty, huh?

I should admit at this juncture that I deliberately chose the only yellow book on my night table for my little photo shoot. That the Fumitory complements the cover type was an unlooked for bonus. I paid pennies for this gem in a second hand book store a few weeks back and have been dipping in and out of it ever since ... more a biography of trees than a spotter's guide I've found it to be best imbibed in short bursts.

I'm also rereading, for the umpteenth time, Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion (1987). Ask me to describe the book in just one word and I'd say 'haunting', allow me ten and I'll tell you that 'it interrogates love, and the boundary between history and myth'. Ondaatje's narrator believes that "the first sentence of every novel should be: 'Trust me, this will take time but there is order here, very faint, very human'". And as a reviewer wholeheartedly recommending In the Skin of a Lion to you, I say the same. (That latter link is to a New Statesman review of the book which I almost feel I could have written.)


✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤ ✤


My recent tiff with the sticks and string had its roots in something deeper. A friend asked me, 'What would you like your epitaph to say?'. Glib responses aside I realised I was clueless, but I knew there'd be no mention of knitting ... so why do I spend so much time on something I've no interest in being remembered for? I'm still working on my answers to both questions. What would you hope your epitaph might say?


Picking
Meadow Buttercup, aka Meadow Crowfoot, Ranunculus acris
Lesser Trefoil, aka Suckling Clover, Trifolium dubium (the smaller yellow flowers)
Common Fumitory, Fumaria officinalis (the larger pink flowers)
Herb Robert, aka Stinky Bob, Geranium robertianum (most clearly visible next to the O of 'out'in the image above)

Many thanks for your enthusiastic response to my last post, wild flowers are clearly popular. I'm loath to suggest anything as formal as a linky, but do please let me know if you share your own wild flower posies anywhere online. Or maybe I'll start a 'Wild Flower Posy' Flickr group ... would any of you be interested in that?

Knitting
Yarn: Gorse flower dyed (by me) 100% mohair 4 ply, unbrushed.
Pattern: Cupido Cowl, by Hiroko Fukatsu

Reading
Out of the Woods: The Armchair Guide to Trees, by Will Cohu
In the Skin of a Lion, by Michael Ondaatje

Linking with
Laura's The Year in Books
Ginny's Yarn Along

And finally, one reader has reported hearing an unwelcome blast of song whenever she clicks through to my blog. If anyone else has experienced this I'd be most grateful if you could let me know. And if you have heard it please rest assured that it's not something I'm choosing to inflict on you.

A quick update re. the above. I've raised the issue with Blogger support but resolving this won't happen overnight. I can't deal with it myself as Blogger bloggers are denied access to their blog's source code and I'm 99% certain that that's where this nuisance is emanating from. Worryingly mine is clearly neither the first nor the only Blogger blog to be affected. That move to another blogging platform may be happening sooner than expected!

* I still have cloth and thread steeping in the dye but as soon as its 'cooked' I'll write a 'how-to'.

54 comments :

  1. Nope, your blog is delightfully silent at my end. Love that yarn - I need to learn about dyeing and dyestuffs I think!

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  2. I am on a Mac using Safari and have never heard any music from you blog.

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  3. Not a sound here!
    I noticed only yesterday how the wildflowers are growing like crazy and are looking delightful!

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  4. I had a blast of "this is what you want, this is what you need" but closed a couple of other links and it went...

    Is that really the yellow colour you get from gorse flowers?! It's so delicate and bright at the same time...can't wait for the recipe :)
    Love your wild flower posts
    xx

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    1. It was back again here this morning. I didn't close anything but it goes after a couple of lines, of its own accord. It doesn't start straight away. I'm on a Mac using Safari. Mystifying.

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    2. Yep, that's the yellow I got Joanne, or rather the yellow I see on my screen is, your screen may of course be calibrated differently. But your description sounds about right :)

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  5. Lovely sunny yellow, it can't help to cheer the soul!
    I think the music thing is most bizarre...I'm imagining if there is any tune at all it should be a little fanfare played on mini trumpets..... ;-)

    I

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  6. I had a blast of music too!
    I love the mellow yellow colour, but what I'd really like along with the colour of the gorse flowers is their wonderful scent. It's a pity dyeing can't incorporate that too. Imagine snuggling into a beautiful yellow scarf in the middle of winter and breathing in the smell of gorse flowers.
    I share wildflower posies and wildflower eating ideas on my blog. One day I shall try dyeing with them.

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  7. No serenading here, just my usual calm before the explosion that is grandson number 2. Love the colour if that yarn, what a pretty yellow it is.

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  8. Hey Annie,
    No blast of sound at this end. The colour of the gorse yarn is gorgeous. I am hankering after some yellow in the house, and that is the exact colour I want! So I look forward to a how to, and may have a go. I picked more cow parsley today . I adore it.
    As for an epitaph. Not sure about me, but I quite like Spike Milligan's "I told you I was ill!"
    Leanne xx

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  9. Hello Annie:

    We are delighted to read that the flowers of the gorse may be used for dyeing purposes as, at least for us, we find that particular yellow rather on the harsh side.

    Alas, we miss hearing the first, or indeed any, cuckoo. So much a part of the English spring.

    Where epitaphs are concerned, we shall leave those to whoever comes after us!! Best not to know!!

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  10. No sound from your posts but funnily enough I have heard it on others, I would love to know what it means! The gorse has turned that wool into a fabulous shade of yellow, I would love to be able to do something like that.

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    1. It's easy Joanne, honestly. Watch this space for that how-to.

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    2. Joanne, I'd hoped to email but you are set as no-reply on your Blogger profile ... you wouldn't happen to remember which other sites you heard the unwelcome music on would you?

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  11. All I can hear is the bird song in the garden. I like what someone said about Nelson Mandela, A life well lived

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  12. Quiet enough here ( well apart from all the children in at Nursery today ! ) to hear a cuckoo call. That yellow is such a beautiful shade Annie, wouldn't that make the prettiest summer wrap ? Just beautiful.
    Don't know about my epitaph, but my husband and I always chuckle over the words Spike Milligans had written on his tombstone which are " I told you I was ill "
    Have a great day
    Kate x

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  13. I'm not usually a fan of yellow ( I think it goes back to a yellow school uniform blouse!), but your gorse dyed yarn is beautiful. X

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  14. I think I would rather leave my epitaph to others rather than write one myself! Your blog is silent to me. The words fill the space they have left.....

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  15. No sound here either and I'm on an ordinary Windows 7 laptop. I love your unfolding discoveries about potential dye-stuffs.

    I think an epitaph is too short to go into detail, but I'd hope my obituary would mention books, music, knitting and blogging. :-)

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  16. Goodness that yarn is delicious, not only does gorse smell good it makes pretty yarn too!
    My epitaph?? Well a really good friend of mine, no longer with us once said when describing me that I was "honest to the point of bluntness"! I like that! :)
    V x

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  17. Hi Annie, I am liking all the little buttercups that are starting to pop up in the fields especially when the cows are laying amongst them. The shade of yellow you got from the gorse is really lovely, I like it.

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  18. Annie, the colour is stunning! It turned out so beautifully, well done! Can't wait to see it all knitted up, and do you use two strands or just the single for the cowl, which is a very nice pattern by the way...Mel x

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    1. I'm using just one, on a smaller needle, but have cast on more stitches to compensate for the gauge difference and will knit more rounds.

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  19. found myself (last week) on vacation with nothing more to knit----and realized that I'm not quite as centered on the process as I had once thought....no hives broke out, no jitters, no panic attack! I guess I'm going to have to change my 'epitaph'!!!

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  20. I'd like to be known as a caring woman who helped many children, and of course a knitter.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  21. Annie, the shade of yellow you've produced from the gorse is definitely a pretty one...prettier than gorse itself, to my eye.

    I haven't heard any funny music around your place. Hoping blogger gets that sorted out for you soon.

    It was fun to click over to the link to see what others have been knitting. xo

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  22. Ooooh, now you've made me worry! I think I want to be known for knitting, quilting, blogging, etc. Is that the way it's going to be??? Yikes! On the other hand, I'd be happy if it only said how much I love my family -- I love to read obituaries that say "was devoted to family" or something like that. I hope what I do conveys that to my family!

    Were you around in the days when the six-word epitaph went through blogland? That was a fun exercise. Could you write yours in six words. I saw some really amazing ones back then!

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    Replies
    1. I wasn't around then, no. Now there's a challenge!

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  23. That epitaph question is an interesting one. So few words to summarize a life, so no, knitting would not be named specifically. But I suspect most of us would like something about love to be a part of our epitaph, and knitting would be included in that. We love our craft, and we have knit things for those we love.

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  24. I love the yellow, the color came out so richly. I have often thought about my epitaph but I'm not sure what it would say. Silence is golden, maybe. Haha. :)

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  25. Annie, I was just wondering if, because you have diversified and got into a load of other things, knitting has taken a back seat and you are now doing other things you'd sooner be remembered for? I'm a quilter and I get huge comfort from the idea that people will have quilts I've made them when I'm gone.

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    1. I think it would be wonderful to be a quilter and leave a stitched legacy ... quilts generally last far longer than knits.

      Knitting was and is something I enjoy but perhaps it wasn't the best choice for my blog. I've always had diverse textile related interests and I just chose one from among the many when I started knitsofacto, but blogging about knitting has elevated it above those other crafts and I'm uncomfortable with that, I guess that's the crux of the matter. I was actually always a dyer first and foremost but I didn't think reading about my natural dye exploits would interest people, which was clearly a bad call.

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  26. No bursts of song here Annie, your blog is serene and beautiful as always. The gorse dyed yarn is lovely, it's worked really well. Hope you have a good weekend. CJ xx

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  27. Noise free for me, Annie, so evidently it is very selective who gets the blast!

    I have used Shakespeare's flowers many times when designing cross-stitch patterns for myself, I especially loved the idea of nosegays and the use of herbs. (I haven't X-stitched for decades, but it did lead me into quilting and other textile arts!)

    I'm now being gently led into the world of weaving, and dyeing yarn, so love that you continue to explore natural dyes for your knitting.

    Not sure what I'd like to be remembered for - being a good stick and a kind person I suppose would be pretty darned good I think; my achievements, such as they are .... well, I guess they mean more to your nearest and dearest don't they? Lxxxx

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  28. I'm sure I heard some music when I popped by the other day but all is silent today. Love the yellow book cover and the buttercups.I would be interested in joining a Flickr group for the wild flowers. Sarah x

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  29. I love yellow! and that mohair yellow yarn...yummy!!!

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  30. It's been too long, Annie, since I visited and as soon as I saw your gorgeous photo and that delicious yarn, I felt 'at home' again! I do love your words and have promised myself that 'In the skin of a lion' will be the next book I read.
    No music here - just a feast for the eyes and the imagination - I can just see that beautiful cowl in your lovely home-dyed and spun yellow.
    Hugs,
    Axxx

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  31. Funnily enough I have been getting music through on my computer someone singing 'this is what you want, this is what you get' - most strange.

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  32. It is so amazing to see the yarn that you died, it is a wonderful colour, just as I would have imagined from the description of gorse, but I know that sometimes dyes do not come out the colour of the thing that you might imagine, so I was pleasantly surprised by this. It really is a wonderful colour of spring. I hope that you get your blogger issues sorted out. xx

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  33. Beautiful wild flowers and how wonderful to go out to just pick them! And, such a beautiful shade of yellow yarn!! Wishing you a lovely week! xo Heather

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  34. Hello Annie, I found your blog through Amy's lovemademyhome. Beautiful blog and beautiful pictures. I didn't know that gorse flowers can give yarn such a delicious creamy yellow colour. Thanks for sharing!
    Marielle

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    1. And thank you for visiting. The gorse will give different shades of yellow on different fibres, and also different depths of colour according to the dye stuff to fibre ratio.

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  35. Hello Annie, I don't know how I missed these last couple of posts! Your home-dyed yarn is the most amazing yellow. I was recently at a decorative living fair where a lady had dyed some linen using woad, it was the most beautiful blue, quite unlike anything produced by chemicals. A wild flower posy group sounds like a lovely idea, I'm not on Flickr or similar but will willingly join. Have a lovely weekend.
    Jane x

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  36. I'm a big fan of wild flowers too and yours are just beautiful. Clever colour coordination with your yellow yarn and yellow book making the buttercups happy!

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  37. beautiful photos....and no music...

    i recall a dinner with family - and the topic of discussion - epitaphs...and now, I'm stuck - my mother tongue descends from Dutch....and many times I find it quite difficult to translate the figurative style and use of expressions of Afrikaans ...all I can say is - ask your family members one eve around dinner what must be written on your tombstone...

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  38. Your photographs are splendid! So cheerful and spring. I think that tree book is pretty neat. I love seeing trees when we're out and about. I marvel at how tall they are and wonder at how long it took them to grow up to that height. I especially love the gnarled trees. They fascinate me.

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  39. Epitaph? not sure I want one. A plain stone with name and dates will do for me. I would like to be remembered for food and fun and taking the time to look at things.

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  40. choosing your epitaph would be hard..............

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  41. Lovely post as ever! I had buttercups on my windowsill recently and was surprised at how much 'mess' they eventually sprinkled all around the base of their little vase! The only song I hear when I click over to you is the one in my head as it goes ..."Knitsofacto" to the tune of "Ipso Facto" - every time! xCathy

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  42. I adore that bright and cheery photo and that yarn! Beautiful.
    Marianne x

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  43. Your photos are stunning, as usual! I love the sunny yellow of your yarn...I'm sure the cowl you are working on is going to be beautiful (and oh, so cozy). Your approach to sharing what you are reading and knttitng is so interesting to read. I occasionally post on Ginny's yarn along, but I haven't in a bit because I am afraid my posts sound redundant...you have such a way with words.

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  44. Gorgeously styled photo Annie, that combination of book, flowers and yarn is perfection. It's like a trinity of my three favourite things...oh, ok, maybe there'd be a glass of wine just out of shot if I'm being honest...

    Epitaphs, eh? Bit gloomy! I hope mine would mention love, and maybe happiness. That's all that really matters. x

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  45. Yellows are really hard to get right. That looks lovely. I don't speak as a dyer, of course, just and end user. I'll have to look for that book. I just finished Rebecca West The Fountain Overflows and really loved it. I can't believe it has taken me all these years to read any of her writing.

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  46. How did you find Out of the Woods? I was a bit disappointed. I enjoyed the information but found the style of it immensely irritating. But the colour is good!

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