One of my very favourite books of all time is Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II. I love it – and go back to it over and over again for a number of reasons: firstly, because it is beautifully written, secondly, because his food is clean and simple and respectful of simple ingredients, but most of all I love it because he writes with such passion about his subject. I can see the rain dripping from the eaves of the unfinished kitchen, and I can taste the rich sweetness of the baked quince – clearly I am reading the chapters that focus on Winter, which is appropriate for this time of the year!
Here in the bushveld we don’t actually have much of a Winter. Our days in May and June are mainly warm and sunny, and I have to admit to sometimes craving a really cold day – one where I can bury myself in scarves and shawls, and snuggle up under a woolly blanket with a cup of Hot Chocolate. Summer on the other hand can be ” off the scale” hot, with temperatures regularly rising up into the early forties, and for past few years it has been dry as a bone too, which doesn’t make the heat any more bearable.
It seems to me that I am always weaving against the seasons – weaving woolly blankets in summer and light cotton scarves in Winter as I prepare for the upcoming seasons. It isn’t always easy to look forward to getting mohair up my nose on a sweltering February morning, and cool cotton just doesn’t really deliver in Winter. This year, however, I seem to have finally go it right and I am making doublewidth mohair blankets in Winter. They have been a plan on the back burner for almost two years, and with the current situation which forces us to remain at home, I have finally taken the plunge and am working on what has turned into rather a mammoth project.
After working with boat shuttles, I am finding working with the ski shuttles I am using to accommodate the bulk of the mohair yarn cumbersome and painstakingly slow. The mohair does indeed get up my nose and there seems to be mohair fluff everywhere I look. I should be sweating my way through this project, but strangely enough I’m not. I’m really enjoying pretty much everything about it. The loom is working sweetly and it is easy to establish a rhythm as I settle down for a few hours, and I just love the way the blankets are turning out. They are soft and squishy, and will, I am quite sure , be feather light when they finally come off the loom.
Now that I am into the second half of the second blanket, I find myself taking it all a little slower, as if to stretch the task out for a little longer before I relinquish the pleasure I have found in the intensely rhythmic process that is weaving. When all is working as it should, the process can become almost meditative, and I find myself leaving the loom relaxed and ready to face whatever comes my way. Sometimes finishing off a big project can be almost like saying ‘ Good-bye’ to an old friend.
The wonder of it all is that when these are said and done, there will be another project waiting around the corner for me to fall in love with, and so the weaving will continue through the Winter, and into the Spring and so on and so on.Fo me, my time at the loom feeds my soul. My wish is that I could write about my weaving as eloquently as Nigel Slater writes about food. What I know for certain is that we are equally passionate about our respective subjects.