gurning, kippers, and colour

For the record, I have had two really ‘bad’ days this week, during which I’ve been unable to do much because of fatigue. (Will it ever just fook off?) At times when brain and body refuse to do anything strenous, knitting and the BBC can often save me from getting too crotchety. But it is hard not to feel crotchety when the Archers has turned into the everyday story of royal folk, with shameless plugs for HRH’s Tory Originals, and the peasants gleefully doffing their caps at the titled visitor. Also, how could the BBC allow this woeful sixth-form gubbins into its so-called ‘arts’ programming? Yentob, you numpty, for shame. And then there is this otherwise laudable project, spoilt by Neil Oliver’s irritating habit of addressing the viewer over his shoulder with-furrowed-brow-and-manly-mane, spouting inane speculations on the psyche of the Mesolithic. Tom refuses to watch anything with Oliver in it, but I do find him good for the occasional laugh. (I recommend fast-forwarding the iplayer to about 45 minutes in, and observing the absurd slo-mo gurn.)

When not feeling bloody rotten, I have been enjoying:

1) . . re-reading Our Mutual Friend. I had forgotten how good it is.

2) . . the output of different smokehouses. Really, is there any breakfast better than this? I also find the aesthetics of kipperskin quite compelling. Call me pecu, I do not care . .

. . though I am concerned that my neighbours may not share my obsession.

3) . . . being out and about with Bruce

The days are rather grey, and the weekend forecast is for snow, but the birds are going ape in the hedges, and there are flashes of early Spring everywhere you look.

(Just get on with it and take the picture)

4) . . . indoor colour

. . . who isn’t a sucker for yellow and purple at this time of year? On the subject of which . .

5) . . . purple knitting.

Now, this is curious, since I am not in the least a purple person (there is not a single purple item in my wardrobe, for example). This yarn has been sitting in my stash for an aeon – I bought it several years ago in a place with very poor lighting, thinking it was indigo blue. But it is most definitely purple – one of the purplest purples I have seen, in fact – and the more one knits it, the purpler it becomes. I rather like it. What am I knitting? Well, I am reformatting and updating a few of my patterns with a view to their forthcoming wholesale availability in Canada and the US, and I thought I’d make a fresh sample of one of my sweaters that only takes a few days to knit up. I am sure you can guess what it is. There may be a purple appearance soon.

Have a lovely weekend, however you are spending it!

76 thoughts on “gurning, kippers, and colour

  1. Beautiful images, beautiful purple (I’m not much of a fan, either, but that yarn is complex and seductive). I wish you well in your recovery and hope that you grow in strength every day.

  2. I am loving the purpleness of it all. My mother told me this would happen when you get older. Colours that you may have found garish become happy and bright. Ronald MacDonald becomes the well coordinated man around town in his red and yellow. Well I can imagine why with the winter we are coming out of that we would lean towards the yellows and purples. Nature is no fool drawing us into spring and giving us hope. Works for me!! Looking forward to seeing the purple sweater and what the future holds for the wholesale plan -welcome to Canada!

  3. I am with you on the Neil Oliver thing, my husband turned to me sfter that speech and said “that’s just b*****ks isn’t it?” and I replied you’d certainly *not* get away with it in even a first year essay. But I am enjoying anticipating where Oliver will be next from his ‘big build ups’ – so far I have been 100% correct , so the archaeology degree was not all in vain…

    (have avoided The Archers like the plague this week)

  4. Bruce is developing into a very handsome young man. He looks very mature in this picture. I love the springy pictures … hopeful. We’re having a heck of a winter here in New England and it’s so wonderful to see green.

  5. Totally with you on the Archers and the Sebastian Faulks rubbish. Can’t really blame him, I suppose – I only watched the first one and could see that going to some tropical island in order to deliver about 30 seconds on Robinson Crusoe must have had its attractions.

  6. Love the purple. Just bought some myself from Morehouse Merino’s sale. A lovely deep purple Iris lace weight. They have scarves based on cells. But, I digress. ‘Fraid we don’t have anything quite that entertaining to watch in the States. Feel better!

  7. Must be Owls! I’m currently planning my second Owls sweater, though I first need to receive my yarn! (ordered from an online store 3 months ago and now not getting any response from them. Very frustrating.)

  8. Love kippers – perfect breakfast for the weekend. Ppppurple was the colour of my school uniform way back when……. I love the crocuses and snowdrops!!! I fear it will be awhile in this part of the world :( But I hope the Spring will be joyful for you this year.

    (And despite my surname, I am no relation to the “F” person you are unhappy with)

  9. Welcome to my world Kate! I love purple. Are you knitting ‘Owls’? I bought your pattern recently and I intend to knit it in a purple tweedy yarn when I find the right one.

    Here’s the infamous poem for you:


    When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
    With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
    And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
    And run my stick along the public railings
    And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
    I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
    And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
    And learn to spit.

    You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
    And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
    Or only bread and pickle for a week
    And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

    But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
    And pay our rent and not swear in the street
    And set a good example for the children.
    We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

    But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
    So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
    When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

    Jenny Joseph

  10. I am reading OMF! I love it so much! And getting ready to stroll out with my small, semi-elderly, black dog, Haiku, and check out the progress of Daffodils and Croci in my neighborhood.
    knit on knitter! So will I.

  11. I adore the purple yarn! It is marvelous…but I am an acknowledged lover of such. Would like to take a moment to thank you for your recommendation months ago of Yorkshire Tea. It is hard to find here in Rhode Island, New England, but worth the search and the extra cost. Most welcome and now my daily drink.

  12. “…forthcoming wholesale availability in Canada…” Woot!!! Yay!!!
    Love the picture of the snowdrops. I’ve never actually seen any in person; they look like tiny lightbulbs! That ever-slightly-so-squinty look that Bruce is giving you is pretty sweet, too. I know that look, but I’ve never been able to capture it on film.

  13. Ahh. My wonderful little granddaughter’s favorite color is PURPLE. I read somewhere all little girls love PURPLE first… of all the colors. I have a great appreciation for gray to purple … Thanks for your notes.. Love reading every one.

  14. those crocus, snowdrops and your dog-the pictures make me long for those signs of spring which are at least a month away here in NYS. we have had a melt though at it is 60 degrees today but just a teaser. I’m sorry you are in a bad patch right now. Interesting that you are knitting purple-I bought a skein of beautiful hand dyed yarn on etsy that for some reason I couldn”t resist and it is deep dark purple with thick and thin nubbies in it a tiny streaks of gold and black-I’m making a cowl which may not do it justice but there isn’t enough for much more. Hope your weekend is peaceful.
    Pam G.

  15. Nothing to do with this post but was just attracted to a review in the Tablet (Catholic periodical that I subscribe to for research purposes) which is illustrated by a photo of a man in tweed holding a very large lobster. The man is John Lorne Campbell and the book is ‘The Man Who Gave Away His Island: a life of John Lorne Campbell of Canna’ by Ray Perman. You probably know it as it has been out since September but I just thought it was so ‘you’.
    Best wishes, Joan

  16. I refused to give Sebastian Faulks as much as an one-second chance. I knew I would be shouting at the telly. On the other hand, I was really looking forward to BBC4’s “The Beauty of Books” and have been foaming at the mouth ever since.

    I like purple but then again I have never been a subtle person colourwise. When I was a teenager I was gleefully mismatching colours and nowadays I still wear loud colours – although I try to make sure they match one another.

  17. OK I admit it – I am turning into the woman wearing purple (but I haven’t yet started spitting!) I have a little book with the poem in it, and every time I read it I find I have developed another trait. I am sorry you are still being struck down with the dreaded fatigue. As an antidote to Neil Oliver, watch ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ on Channel 4, 9pm Fridays (but not if you have small children/maiden aunts in the room!)

  18. Boo to you having a couple of crappy days! Glad you’re finding positives in the spring flowers, they’re a good reminder that winter will eventually be over. I’m in agreement with you in regards to the Archers. I thought the BBC was supposed to be impartial, so why isn’t there a mixed veiw amongst the characters, i.e. why hasn’t someone expressed they couldn’y give a monkeys about royalty visiting their village, instead of fawning around them like they’ve actually achieved something. Hey ho!

  19. Tee hee, had to laugh when I read your comment about Neil Oliver’s ‘over-the-shoulder’ style! We don’t have a telly but we’ve watched some of his programmes on iplayer – we can never remember his name so just know him as ‘that bloke with the satchel who always talks over his shoulder’. (I wonder how many times he trips up during filming? Bet there are some fabulous out-takes!) I was an avid Archers fan but stopped listening the night Nigel fell off the roof; I had heard about the royal visitors but even that didn’t tempt me to listen again – think I’m truly free of my Archers addiction at last!

    I’ve enjoyed reading about the Newhaven fishwives. Have you seen the fishwife statue at Nairn harbour? It was made around 5 or 6 years ago and her gansey was specially knitted for the bronze casting. The detail in the statue is amazing – well worth a look.

    Sorry to hear you’ve had 2 really bad days this week. I don’t know what it feels like because I’ve never experienced such extreme fatigue, but I would imagine that the unpredictability of it makes it even more difficult to cope with. Hope your next week is a good one!

  20. I do find those documentaries that appear to be as much about the presenter as the topic quite irritating. Thanks for the tip regarding Our Mutual Friend, the only Dickens I haven’t read and just the ticket for the winter that won’t end.

  21. Hoping that next week is better. Your photos are lovely though – I must spend some time finding the crocuses this weekend. I’m avoiding Faulks after I heard him on Open Book, and the later conversation about heroines didn’t inspire confidence either – I’d have hoped for better from the BBC on Books season :)

  22. Oh, Kate, you are funny. Neil Oliver irritates me, too. Why the hair? Why the posing? However, I am so desperate for UK TV I tolerate all of his nonsense.
    Sorry to hear you were feeling so crummy this week. Aren’t you glad you have a stash!

  23. Sorry you have had a bad week – and I don’t think Neil Oliver will help……….how infuriating is that nasally ‘I am Scottish but trying to sound cool’ accent -and ‘I am cool cos look at my hair’.

    We had lovely kippers when we were on holiday in Whitby – doesn’t matter about the smell if you are only there for the week!
    Purple? I knew Helen would respond – not my colour but I can see why folk are attracted to it – it’s got to be a good depth of dye though and then you can see the appeal.
    ………and don’t get me started on the Archers……………………..

    I hope you feel better soon.

  24. He may gurrrn, but he rolls a beauitful R.

    I’m off to the Archers Anarchists AGM next weekend (don’t ask!). Will be v interesting to get their take on Nigel, herself, and what the Dickens is wrong with that Harry bloke.

  25. Have to agree with Colleen, I could listen to Neil Oliver reading anything though preferably on the radio so I don’t need to see the hair! The Archers has been irritating since the new year began and the addition of a royal voice didn’t do anything to make me feel more tolerant towards it.
    Love the purple yarn, and the spring purples and yellows. A friend called today with a bunch of hyacinths (I’ve never seen them used as cut flowers before) tulips, iris and tiny daffodils. It was a real delight on a dreich day, the hyacinths have so many shades of purpley-blues in their petals.

  26. I’m just too American to follow much of what you said, but I get the tone. Bruce is so handsome. If you get a chance to watch Dick Proenneke from the 1960’s build a log cabin in Alaska and live there self sufficiently, that is hours of interesting knitting tv. I watched it while recovering from surgery.

  27. Ah, snowdrops and crocus. I’m jealous.
    I always love the Bruce pictures, but this one is very sweet. Look at those eyes.

  28. The Deco in purple? I’m holding my breath for that pattern. Your breakfast sound intriguing…and Bruce’s face reminds me of the look my Sadie would give me. My heart made a little groaning sound when I saw it. Thank you.

  29. Oh my — snowdrops? Crocus’? Tulips, etc., and inside, too? Personally, I love purple AND kippers. There is, in fact, no better breakfast.

  30. Your Spring flowers are so refreshing. Here in Maine, we have two feet of snow on the ground and snowbanks five feet high. We’ll have crocus and snowdrops sometime in May.

  31. That looks very similar to a yarn I am knitting with at the moment – Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Potpourri. It’s purple but I don’t think it’s *too* purple.

    I bought some Artesano Aran recently, and in the shop I thought it was a lovely royal blue. When I got it home it was the purplest purple I’ve ever seen. Violet, even.

  32. It’s so kind of you to share the nice things even when you’ve been feeling rotten. Kippers, spring flowers, dog, the BBC (even when one has to shout at it in disbelief), Our Mutual Friend and knitting a jumper (wholesale availability; go you!) – all make one smile just to think about, let alone see pictures, let alone have. Thank you for sharing!

  33. That is a rather lovely purple, as they go (also not normally a fan of purple). Loving the first signs of spring, even all the way up where you are – can’t wait till the daffodils start waking up.

  34. With you utterly on the Archers (I’m a refusnik – how dare they throw poor Nigel off the roof – so I didn’t have to switch off in a burst of republicanism as I’d already done so), Neil Oliver’s gurning and his Mesolithic ramblings.

    I trained as an archaeologist specialising in the Mesolithic, so I spent a happy half-hour shouting and throwing my knitting – which is currently red, ho ho – at the telly. Assumption built on assumption built on enormous assumption. To quote someone (can’t remember who), just because you feel you can reach out and touch the past, doesn’t mean you can describe its face.

    Sorry. All my (non-archaeologist) friends love him and I was feeling so alone…

  35. Love, love, the purple. Kippers, not so much. Flowers, ah, flowers. Too soon for our neck of the world. Hope the sunny, warmer days brings some relief for you.

  36. I really enjoy your blog and have never commented so far, but feel moved to say a brief word in defence of Neil Oliver. He was absolutely lovely to my very elderly father-in-law when he did a piece with him (shown last summer) on the history of the Ile de Sein, off Finistère in Brittany. And a friend in Orkney who was involved in a piece about those islands confirmed my f-i-l’s view as well. So I am prepared to tolerate the man-bag and the mane for the human behind!

  37. In agreement with you on the kippers. I have my mum’s electric frying pan which we used to cook kippers (and fry fish) in the garden so no smell in the house. Now I live in NYC and can’t do that anymore. I’ll disagree on the purple though. The sweater I just knit is purple, and so is my bedroom shag rug.

  38. Buds bursting forth…sigh…we have quite a wait before we will see anything green here. Enjoy!

    And, purple’s not so bad – its the one color that looks good on everyone no matter what their complexion.

  39. Purple needn’t be garish at all – it can be a beautiful heathered blend of colors, like the yarn you show here. (In fact, heathery blues, violets and lavenders are among my favorite colors for yarns and fabrics, though I don’t dress entirely in them – much too sweet in excess). Also, try a note of heather purple or lavender against a mixture of heathered new-growth greens and some light silvery-browns in colorwork for a breath of spring. California hills in spring: grasses and lupines and wild radish. . .

  40. Spring? Oh, how I wish… we’re still in the midst of a very lame winter – it’s not cold enough for real winter activities anymore, but it’s not warm enough for spring to be on it’s way.

    Purple’s not so bad… at least, not a lovely heathered purple like yours appears to be!

  41. So, your Spring is acoming, and all is agrowing. Over Here we have had another sweltering week – I am longing for winter…. I am struggling very much with trying to modify an ordinary sleeve into a seamless set in sleeve. Third time lucky maybe!

  42. Dear Kate

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I think that it is fantastic and your story is amazing. I was really shocked when I read about the stroke and the impact it has had on your life.

    I love the photographs on your blog and I was fascinated by your knitting and the patterns you’ve created.

    Very best wishes

    Julie Raby
    (working and blogging in York still)

  43. I hadn’t seen the latest Neil Oliver offering but having watched one episode of Coast- I chanced upon it and he was talking about Chessil Beach and Lyme Regis, which is where I grew up so I stuck with it – boy, I can really see Tom’s point. He’s like a pastiche of a Scottish TV presenter, and having taken your advice to fast forward on iplayer – is my licence fee now going on sides of pork for him to shoot arrows into? Insult to injury following this weeks Archers…

    Welcome to the purple side… may you really grow to love its infinite variation.

  44. The BBC broke the Archers with the SATTC celebratory fall from the roof, so I haven’t been able to listen since – although I have been keeping up with the misery on Ravelry!
    I watched the first Faulks-on-books, dreadful, and have been watching the programmes about sculptures instead.

  45. Okay, I wondered if you’d be shouting at the Seb Faulks piece as much as I was. I watched one episode and gave up; no evidence of thought in it, at all. I was not pleased by the one episode I saw of “The Beauty of Books”, either.
    In defence of Neil Oliver: an ex-archaeologist friend of mine used to work with him on digs, and said he was a nice bloke. I find that if you know Anything At All about a subject, it is best to avoid the television documentary.

    Meanwhile, I struggle through “David Copperfield”. I wanted to read OMF, but I’m trying not to buy any books for a year (as the to-read bookcase – well, I have a too-read bookcase!) Hope the fatigue lessens. Looking forward to the purple pattern.

  46. Much sympathies with the fatigue – you know I understand, and I really empathsised with your heartfelt “Will it ever just fook off?” Indeed. Thank goodness Spring is in the air.

  47. Oh I’m sorry about the fatigue still rearing its ugly head :( (ditto!) I haven’t listened to the Archers in aeons, although my mum was hooked until a year in hospital in France after her own stroke meant she lost all interest… I was thinking about listening to it quite recently in fact until I heard about the Camilla angle and really, it put me off. Hope you feel chirpier soon :)

  48. Love purple and yellow, and the face of Bruce the doggy, and the fields of flowers, takes me back to childhood.
    Speaking of Charles Dickens, and I love his stories too. Well the town I live on the outskirts of has a couple of famous people’s relatives graves. Just thought it may be interesting for you.
    Jessie Dickens was the wife of Alfred Dickens, son of the famous Charles Dickens, and she died at the age of 29yrs on Dec/14th 1878 after being thrown from a carriage when her horse bolted in Collins Street Melbourne Victoria Australia. She died in hospital.
    Another famous grave here is Alexander MacKillop, the father of Blessed Mary MacKillop. I see that he was born, it says, in the Scottish Highlands on Jan/21/1812 and emigrated to Australia in 1838( dec 1868) it says he spent the last period of his life engaged in public speaking, church and civil life in the town which I live near.
    This is from a local history brochure and is all correct. Hope you find it interesting.

    I look forward to see what the purple garment will be, and I don’t like Camilla.

  49. Well I thought “Yentob” was an abbreviation for something and didn’t get it (kind of like WTF). Botney? No, that’s not it. Then I tried to make it out (which is rather funny), before just googling. Ah.

    I know everyone knows this, but I was delighted to be able to watch masses of shows on Youtube (mostly British and old – not really available other than public television).

    Hope you’re feeling kippery today.

  50. Breathtakingly beautiful images, as always! The kipper skin is utterly compelling, Bruce gets handsomer by the minute, and the yellow and purple blooms (and yarn) are just the colour fix I needed this morning. Thank you!

  51. Kate,

    I have always liked purple in all its various shades and tints. Enjoy knitting that purple yarn.

    On another matter, according to one of your recent posts, you mentioned that you are writing up the pattern for Deco. I can hardly wait. In revisiting your designs, I was reminded of how much I really like that particular design.

  52. Somehow I missed this entry… great photo of Bruce – such adoration and deep love in those eyes. Purple is just about my favourite colour. Speaking of colours – a new one seems to have come into my life of late…lime green….eeew, I hear you cry…but do you know…I’m finding it very refreshing…..a kind of symbol for a new life….someone gave me a cake of lemongrass soap which is so yummy I find any excuse to wash my hands. Someone else gave me a lime green ashram type smocky top and its great. I see lime green everywhere now. It doesn’t go too badly with purple either…..

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About Kate Davies

writer, designer and creator of Buachaille (100% Scottish wool)