donderdag 4 juli 2013

Knitting, Octavio & Elderflower Tea

Knitting is one of my favorite things to do. Picking up a boll of yarn, a couple of needles and following a pattern to the T, in order to create. It's not just fun but also really well, almost therapeutic I'd say. Keeping your hands occupied and the soft sound of the needles as you knit is relaxing...

Both my grandmothers where knitters. I sadly don't have many memories of my paternal grandmother, but my other grandmother showed me how to knit at my request. Mom is also a great knitter and helped me out many times. By the time I was like 14 or 15 (I think), I was a good enough knitter and had made lots of things myself.

Clothes not so much, a few scarves but nothing else. Maybe because that would be a bigger project. Or because I didn't have huge amounts of wool to work with, or maybe because I had a ton of ideas for other items to create. Whatever the reason, I never made a sweater or a cardigan or something. My mother made loads of clothes for me when I was a child. Sadly (in the early years) she did not know I am allergic to wool... Yes, isn't that funny.

I did not find it amusing wearing a real sheep's woolen sweater and scratching & crying for as long as that thing was on my skin. Luckily I learned to talk and told her it was feeling horrible and itchy. So I was introduced to the lovely cottons and occasional synthetic fiber. The last one my mom hated & I adored it, for it's heavenly comfort.

Mom still hates yarns and fabric that are not natural, but I must admit that for me it's not a deal breaker if something was created by someone else besides Mother nature. I guess that color & look are more important to my (humble) "artistic" eye then how it feels or if it's got a flashy unnatural shine to it.

I do love and deep down secretly acknowledge that nothing beats the real thing. Working with something naturel is probably/most-likely a lot nicer. There I said it, mother knows best. Mine aswell as nature's ;)

Our girls Charlotte and ChloĆ« also prefer natural stuff and more specifically wool. If they smell real wool their hunting instinct comes up and they go a little crazy. The girls growl and run around and fight like cat & cat together over who gets to play with the prey first. So when I came across the ends of a woolen scarf, which I had used in another craft project as an alternative to batting, I saw it's potential as a fun cat toy.

It is a grey plaited bit of material with fringe on it, perfect for cats! I played a little with some ideas & decided to turn it into an octopus with masses of arms. I know, they have a set number of limbs. Since this one is plaited, stuffed and a toy, I think that C&C do not mind this minor detail.

I gave it two green eyes and a name: Octavio. Isn't that grand for an octopus? He doesn't seem to smell a LOT like wool as the girls checked him out carefully for a while. Then Charlotte taking the lead as she often does, pounced on him and bit his head, or is it body? She carried him round the cottage and he was a hit! I gave him a home at the edge of the wicker basket in which our cats sleep.

While I was sewing this little cat toy, mom was also busy crafting. She has been knitting a shrug or a shawl. I'm not sure what the correct category is, but it's a large triangle. A "blanket" almost that you wrap around your shoulders. It's made out of lilac cotton yarn that's woven as a ribbon instead of a normal thread. We had a few of these bolls of yarn laying around & now mom turned it into a beautiful piece.

I love the color and the pattern & cannot wait to wear it soon. The lilac matches mom's "daughter ring(s)". My sister and I each gave her one & she wears them on the same finger. Mine's lilac and my sister's ring is pale pink. They match the yarn perfectly :)

I would love to start another knitting project myself, but I still have some other things I'm working on & I want to finish them before I pick up my knitting needles.

In June the elderflowers are blooming. They are not just stunning to look at but can be used in food and tea as well. Many people make fritters with them. Dipping the flowers in a batter and frying them. We have never done that, but we do like to go and forage a handful of elderflowers. To make a delicious tea. You do have to be careful and only pick the flower heads, the stems and leaves are poisonous!

If you too wish to make elderflower tea, you will need: 4 flower heads. First soak them in cold water to clean (& possibly remove unwanted bugs.) Place the flowers in the teapot and pour boiling water on it. Keep warm for about 10 minutes, strain and serve.

It tastes like a cross between tea from blackcurrant leaves & large leaved lime tea. It's light and rather lovely I think. We were really late in foraging it this year. Then on the first of July my dad put on his boots after a quick breakfast & went for a walk. He came back with 6 flowers and we made 1 1/2 pot of elderflower tea. Wasn't that super nice of him?! He does not even want to drink it. Dad doesn't care for regular tea & herbal tea is even more scary he says :) Thank you so much Dad!

We drank the tea in our new Ikea mugs. A beautiful green color and only 59 eurocents each. After our afternoon tea I read the last two chapters of The Charm Bracelet, a positively charming story. 

Have you ever tried this tea? Are you knitting anything at the moment? Make your own cat toys? Don't be shy and share!

Best wishes,
Jo's Daughter

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