wild flowers

Fair Flooer sock pattern

I have just published a new sock pattern – Fair Flooer

Fair Flooer sock

 

The pattern is designed especially to be knitted using Ginger’s Hand Dyed Sheepish Sock yarn, which Jess handdyes and sells in her lovely wee shop, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh. She chooses great names for her colourways, this one is My Little Pony, there is a red one called Girl on Fire, and a deep rich purple variegated one called Father of Funk.

 

I specifically chose this colourway because, like my sock design, it makes me think of spring flowers. It is great to knit with and is really soft; I think it has the perfect amount of variegation in the yarn, it creates soft striations across the sock, without looking too busy or bitty, so you can see the lace flower pattern clearly; it didn’t give me any problems with colour pooling either.

 

My design started with me thinking up a sock pattern for my first and only (so far) skein of yarn I spun on a drop spindle. The lace design evolved from playing around with the arrowhead lace stitch pattern; I saw simple flowers could be made by slightly adjusting the existing stitch pattern, and I liked and retained the linear effect of the arrowhead lace.

 

This was the first iteration of the design in my handspun yarn:

Fair Flooer prototype

 

Quite honestly, the design is better than the yarn, which was unflattering to the design, as it was quite uneven and veered wildly from 4 ply to DK weight, it knitted up quite tight and because it had a high silk and bamboo content, after a few washes the sole became quite cardboardy!

 

The new iteration on the pattern in Ginger’s lovely yarn is a huge improvement. I created a twisted rib cuff, which reflected the placing of the lace flowers.

 

Fair Flooer sock

 

And the twisted rib in the lace flower pattern extends into the heel flap, a feature which was suggested to me by my friend, Cathy Scott from Stitchmastery, (the program I create my charts on). The socks are knitted top down, and there are both written and charted instructions.

 

Fair Flooer Heel

 

This pattern has interchangeable leg/foot width, leg length and foot length.
Choice of Adult S (M, L)
Foot Circumference: 16.5(19, 21.5) cm / 6.5(7.5, 8.5) ins,

Choice of Leg Length: 1(2, 3) – 15.5(18.5, 21.5) cm /
6(7.25, 8.5) ins

Choice of Foot Length: A (B, C ) – 21(24, 27.5) cm / 8.25+(9.5+, 10.75+) ins – each option can be lengthened.

 

As I live in Scotland, I gave the pattern a Scots inspired name: Flooer is Scots for flower. The design made me think of the first flowers of Spring, which are so welcoming to see after a long Scottish Winter, so I was keen to take photos of the socks with Spring flowers, particularly snowdrops. However it proved a real struggle to get a combination of sunshine and snowdrops, and make the socks look good, and stop me freezing to death with bare legs in Scotland in the middle of February. This was the first attempt in Kelso after about an hour of searching for non-muddy snowdrops and sunshine:

 

Fair Flooer 3

 

The second attempt was more successful and my friend Morven Donald, who works with me at the National Museum of Scotland, and I dived out to the Meadows in Edinburgh to take some photos on a sunny lunchtime. We couldn’t find any in the Meadows, the flowers were all still in bud, so we headed to George Square at the University of Edinburgh Campus, and luckily found some snowdrop clumps in the middle of the square under some trees.

These were the results:

 

Fair Flooer sock design

 

Fair Flooer sock

 

Fair Flooer socks

 

It must have been quite entertaining for the people having their sandwiches on benches around the square to see us prancing around like mad pixies in the snowdrops:

 

Ruth in Snowdrops

 

 

Diggly’s Den

At last the time arrived for the visit to meet Diggly, as discussed here and here. Three of the Felty Folk had plucked up the courage to go on a first trip with me in the car. Neeva showed them around the car, and reassured them that it would be OK, and they climbed up into the safety seat I had created for them:

Climbing in

They were quite excited but a little nervous. I started the car, checked they were OK, and set off. They were quite quiet initially, and as they got used to the new sensations, they started happily chatting with each other.

Safety seat

I drove towards Selkirk, aiming for the area where I had seen Oosie, and she had done her leaf dance. When we were in the right area, I pulled into a layby to check with Oosie where to go next. They clambered out of their seat, and had a bit of a stretch and explored the car:

Oosie takes in the view

There was a lovely view to the distant hills:

The view

It was a lovely day altogether, much nicer for the trip than first intended, where it was supposed to be an easier way of Oosie getting to see her friend Diggly when travelling was hard on foot during the Winter. However the Winter was not too hard this year, and I had been a little unwell to take trips out, so it had been delayed. Oosie had managed to see Diggly a couple of times during the Winter, so this trip had turned into a bit of a jolly for the Felty Folk, and a bit of excitement travelling by car.

I showed them the map, and pointed out where I had seen Oosie before, and she was able to guide me towards where Diggly lived.

The Felty Folk consult the map

We set off again and soon came to the trees where I had seen Oosie:

Row of trees

A little further on, Oosie started getting quite excited and said we were nearly there, so I found a place to park up and we set off by foot, towards a footbridge:

Path to footbridge

This is the burn running under from the footbridge:

Burn from footbridge

We came to a forked path, but Oosie skipped ahead to show us  the way:

Oosie shows the way

Through the gate we were in beautiful woodland, paved with wild flowers. Forget-me-nots threaded under the trees:

Forget-me-not woodland

I love the way they change colour as the flowers age:

Wild Forget-me-not

There were Wood Anemones:

Wood Anemone

And striking trees – a Copper Beech:

Copper Beech

And a Crab Apple tree in full bloom:

Crab Apple Blossom

And a lichen encrusted Apple tree:

Diggly in apple tree

“It’s Diggly, it’s Diggly, it’s Diggly!!” cried Oosie jumping up and down in her excitement. The others were waving and calling out too.

Diggly

“Hello,” I said, “You must be Diggly.”

“That’s right, and you must be Ruth,” he said, “Oosie’s told me about you. I’d better come down and say hello to her…”

He climbed down and ran to Oosie:

Diggly pleased to see Oosie

They were VERY pleased to see each other. There must be something magical going on between them:

Oosie and Diggly

Diggly greeted the others, and they all climbed on a Butterbur leaf for a good chat:

The Felty Folk resting on a Butterbur leaf

I chatted with them for a while, but they were talking about Folk I didn’t know, so it was hard to join in. Diggly was giving them some lunch, but the food was only suitable for Felty Folk;so I said I’d go off for a short walk and explore, and would come back for them later, and left them chatting:

Oosie and Diggly on Butterbur leaf

On my walk I found a beautiful view across a field:

View across field

that somehow reminded me of the Monet painting, Le Pave du Chailly. There was a clump of Welsh Poppies that just glowed, under tender green beech leaves:

Welsh Poppies

Welsh poppy

Closer to the burn there were the unusual Water Avens:

Water Avens

They remind me of Victorian lampshades:

Water Avens close up

Maybe the Felty Folk use them for something, I’ll have to ask them. I walked back along the path by the Crab Apple tree:

Path back

and headed to the patch of Butterbur, but no Felty Folk were in sight. I carried on along the path and came back to the footbridge:

Sitting on bridge2

And there they were, waiting for me:

Sitting on bridge1

“Are you ready to go home?” I asked. “We can stay a bit longer if you like?”

“Yes, we’re ready to go now,” Neeva and Dod replied.

Sitting on bridge4

Oosie explained that Diggly had invited her to stay a few days, so she would make her own way back. Now I’d met Diggly, I was reassured that he would look after Oosie and return her safely.

We all said our goodbyes, and Neeva, Dod and I walked back to the car. I asked Neeva if this was normal behaviour for Felty Folk; and she said that when two Felty Folk really liked each other, they would try out spending longer amounts of time together, eventually they would either live together or not. She said, the Felty Folk don’t have marriage like us, but after two of them have lived together happily for a certain amount of time they would have a celebration, a bit like our wedding anniversaries.

So I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens with Diggly and Oosie, and where they might make their home.

Summer Harvest

After a lovely holiday in the South of England, I’ve had a bit of a struggle against the fatigue of M.E., but I was eager to see the Felty Folk, so I headed out from the back of my house for a walk. The fields had ripened in my absence, and I was walking past golden barley:

Barley field

And who did I see scampering at the edge of the field?

Neeva and Dod in Barley 1

“Hello there. Good to see you again,” I exclaimed.

“Hello,” they both said.

“You’re back,” said Neeva.

Neeva and Dod in Barley 2

“Yes I am, I’ve been a bit tired, so it’s nice to get out and about again.”

“I’ll come around to your garden this week, and you can tell me about your trip,” Neeva said.

“That would be lovely. What are you doing in this field?”

“We’re collecting some barley heads. We collect a few of the broken plants that the farmer cannot pick up with his machines. It’s also good to get a few before the birds get at them, ” explained Dod.

Collected Barley

“What do you use them for?”

“They store well so we keep them by for the winter, and we can just eat the grains, or grind them down as a type of flour, or just roast them to eat. They’re very nutritious.”

“These are a very busy few months for us,” Neeva said. “So much food is ripening and we collect it to get through the Winter. We’re heading off to the woods now for more food, do you want to come too?”

“Of course – lead the way,” I said.

So they dragged their barley to the edge of the field and hid it in the hedgerow, so they could return for it later, and I followed them to the woods.

There were some lovely bright purple flowers by the path, like spineless thistles, which I discovered were Greater Knapweed:

Greater Knapweed

Dod seemed very knowledgeable about the plants and fungi, and headed into the undergrowth, where he started picking some red berries I had not seen before.

“What are they, Dod?”

Red Elderberries

“These are Red Elderberries, they ripen earlier than the usual black ones you see, they’re very tasty.”

I’d noticed he’d already eaten a few.

“We make them into Red elder jelly too. They’re probably not good for you to eat raw though, they might make you ill.”

He pulled off the berries and threw them down to Neeva, waiting below:

Neeva waiting for berries

“Yes, don’t try eating what we eat, some of them are poisonous to humans, especially the berries and mushrooms,” said Neeva.

“Yes, you’re right,” I said, “I’m very careful about that, although it’s lovely to find wild things to eat in the countryside. The only mushrooms I’m sure of are Chanterelles, so I will keep my eyes out for some while we’re here, I’ve seen them under birch trees before.”

I had a hunt around for Chanterelles, and by the time I’d got back, they had stored away the berries and Neeva had collected a big pile of beech nuts:

Summer Harvest 2

“No chanterelles for me, I’m afraid, it might be still a bit early for them. You’ve done well there though,” I said.

“Yes, they are a bit prickly to collect, but they’re much better fresh like this, much tastier, and the husks are easier to make into things.”

Summer Harvest 1

“Are you going to collect that mushroom next to you too?”

“Yes, we’ll take that one, Dod will have to help me pick it, it’s a bit big.”

So they gathered together all the food and dragged it on a big leaf to a nearby tree, where they disappeared under the tree roots to store the food there.

“We’ll have to go back for the barley ears, and then it’s home for tea,” said Neeva.

“I’ll be heading home too,” I said. “See you soon.”

Say goodbye

I walked back along the path, and took a quick look back and they were already blending into the woods, and barely visible.

Tree

Oosie’s ceremony

On the appointed day, after lunch, I headed up to Lauder Common to meet up with the Felty Folk. It’s a bit too far for me to walk, so I took the car. I was unsure where to find them, so I headed towards where I originally saw Dod, and as I got out of the car, there was Neeva looking out for me:

Neeva waiting

“Hi Neeva. This is exciting.”

“Hi Ruth. I’m to take you to the ceremony. Follow me.”  Neeva scurried off along a sheep path through the heather, and I followed on. We soon came to some gorse bushes where sheep were scratching themselves against the branches:

Sheep

There was a very large bush without sheep and we stopped there.

“This is where the ceremony is taking place,” said Neeva, “the others will be here soon.”

Gorse cathedral

I crouched down to see better and realised when you are the size of the Felty Folk, the branches of the gorse bush were like columns in a cathedral.

“I’m a bit too big to get in there, Neeva, and I’ll get really prickled by the gorse.”

“That’s OK. You’ll be able to see easily from outside.”

Neeva shows the way

Dod and Oosie popped out from the grass. Oosie looked very excited.

“Thanks for coming to my age ceremony,” she said.

“I’m pleased you invited me, Oosie. I’m very curious about all this, can you explain it to me?”

Felty Folk meet

“This is where Oosie was created,” Dod said. “The wind blew through the wool caught on the gorse branches and Oosie emerged.”

“Wow. I wondered how you got here. Is it the same for all the Felty Folk?”

“It’s pretty similar, but not always in the same places,” said Neeva.

“And this is the anniversary of my creation, quite a while ago,” said Oosie.

Neeva explains

“Oosie has reached the equivalent of 10 of your human years. We tell the time differently to humans,” Neeva explained.

Suddenly a deep voice called,

“The ceremony is ready to begin.”

Ghillie Dhu arrives

The Ghillie Dhu had arrived!

“Get ready Oosie,” he said. Oosie giggled nervously.

“I’m ready,” she said.

The Ghillie Dhu stood behind her.

The ceremony 1

“By the Moon and Stars that sparked your creation, by the Sun and the Earth that gives you life, I welcome you, Oosie, to our family, now you have reached the age of understanding,” he incanted.

“Thank you for looking after me,” said Oosie, “and showing me the Felty ways.”

The ceremony 2

“Bless you, Oosie,” said Neeva and Dod together.

“And now, I wrap this wool around you, Oosie,” said the Ghillie Dhu,

Placing the wool

“to remind you of your creation. Do you remember Oosie?”

“Yes. I remember,” she replied.

Wool wrapped

“Let us march to The Stone,” commanded the Ghillie Dhu.

I moved out of the way and they started a procession out of the gorse bush and into the heather,  and I followed on, fascinated.

Procession

It was a glorious day, with beautiful views over Lauderdale and the common:

Lauder common 2Lauder common 1

Soon we arrived at The Stone:

The Stone

“Now you can receive your gifts,” announced the Ghillie Dhu. Ooosie eagerly skipped up on to the stone. Neeva asked me if I had brought a gift, and told me now was the time to give it. I gave Oosie a small piece of coral from the Coral Beaches in the Isle of Skye.

Coral present

“Thank you, Ruth. I’ve never been to the sea before, how lovely to have something from there.”

“You’re welcome, Oosie,” I replied.

Next was Dod’s turn:

Stone present

A lovely stripey river stone. Then finally, Neeva with a feather:

Feather present

I think they were going for a stripey theme to match Oosie’s legs.

“You look very glamorous with the wool around your neck and holding your feather, Oosie. Will you pose for a special photograph for me?”

“Where do you want me?”, Oosie simpered.

“How about next to that lovely harebell? It will match your eyes.”

Oosie and Harebell

“And now we dance!” cried Neeva. They rushed over and swept Oosie away to dance:

Dance3

And they danced, and they danced, but I couldn’t hear the music, and couldn’t join in without treading on them, and they were enjoying themselves too much to notice me slip away, leaving them to their dancing in the heather.

Dance2