Introducing Winter Flora

Winter has most definitely arrived in the UK. This is what my garden looked like this morning:

and now it is hung with freezing fog.

I, for one, am rather pleased with this cold spell. The frozen cobwebs and candied blades of grass are magic enough to make cold toes and fingers bearable. We don’t get many days when the temperature stays below freezing through all the daylight hours and each leaf, each twig, each little bit of gravel is locked in a perpetual dawn.

No matter how cold it gets, there are flowers out there to brighten my day. Last autumn, for the very first time, I planted little winter violas in the hanging baskets, and their purple blooms greet me every time I come home. The children were incredulous that they would last all winter, but there they are, flowering on either side of our front door. I am looking forward to a rush of new growth in the spring.

Much older are the hellebores and snowdrops, planted under the old apple tree soon after we moved in. It’s a tricky little bed, shaded and drought-ridden thanks to the tree but directly outside our patio windows. Of course, it’s the winter and spring flowers that do best there, and the nodding hellebores are one of my very favourite. Modest and demure, they wait the winter out with quiet stoicism, eyes to the ground, adorned in gentle purples and pinks and creams. Nearby, the snowdrops have been appearing almost overnight, unnoticed until they ring their little white bells. They are both the sort of flowers that you have to look for, crouch down by, gently lift to admire their blooms. Winter flora, even in the midst of all this frost.

These little dabs of colour are such a joy in the midst of the grey that so characterises the British winter. And, it seems, no month is greyer than February. January I can like, with its energy and sense of renewal – and my birthday. But February? February needs a little colour.

So what better way to celebrate the colour and beauty outside the back door, than to bring a bit of it inside to work on by the fire? This month’s pattern celebrates the gentle colours and delicate shapes of my two favourite winter flowers. I’ve laid them in a bed of moss, with moss stitch borders at either end to complete the illusion. Laid flat, the flowers are clearly depicted, but once on, the design is more subtle.

Unlike all my patterns to date, this is not for beginners, and there will be no tutorial. This snood isn’t very complicated to make, but you do need to know how to knit with two colours at once, twist in your yarns as you go, and read a simple chart.

I really enjoyed designing this project. I started it on Christmas morning, working out the chart in an old maths book, and finished it in the car on the way to my birthday weekend. It blocked in the bathroom overnight, and we took these photos on our walk the following day, when the sun popped out unexpectedly for all of twenty minutes. Of course, I wore it the ‘wrong’ way up, as the snowdrops are meant to face downwards. I even managed to photograph it upside down… But we didn’t see the sun again for a few days, by which time it had been parcelled up and sent to my sister in law for her own special birthday. So these are the photos I have.

I have enough yarn upstairs to make another, so that’s what I’ll be doing in February. Knitting with colour, running the soft yarn through my fingers, and enjoying every tiny detail of the winter flora. And then having something new to wear for those tricky final weeks of winter, when spring seems so long in coming.

Madeleine

The pattern will be published in my Etsy shop and my Ravelry shop next Thursday, 7 February 2019. It calls for Drops Alpaca yarn – one ball of each colour 7238, 0100 and 3800 – and a 3.5 mm circular needle.

I would like to give away a copy of the pattern, so if you’d like to enter a little giveaway, please leave a comment at the end of this post by midnight GMT on Wednesday 6 February. I’ll announce the winner on Thursday 7 February.

What are you knitting at the moment? Are you reaching for the colour, too? I’m looking forward to sharing my other knitting projects with you next week.

8 thoughts on “Introducing Winter Flora”

  1. What a beautiful cowl. I love knitting with more than one colour. I find it easier than doing lacy patterns, in which I loose concentration whereas on colour knitting my attention is fully held. My garden is full of snowdrops now, they came incredibly early this year I thought and really do cheer one up.

    1. Thank you! I was out admiring the snowdrops in my garden again this morning – this time unencumbered by the frost! They are certainly cheering and a sign of good times to come.

  2. This time of year is when our two geographies show such a big difference—my garden is full of lemons, and hyacinths and daffodils are starting to bloom. We have had a wet winter, but I only had two nights when I had to cover my citrus bushes. I, too, planted pansies (violas) in October, and those along with primulas and geraniums have kept color in the garden all winter long. Now, the pink camillas are flowering next to the house, but my beautiful red one further away just has buds. Can you tell I love flowers? I also wanted to comment on your post about your lovely quilts. While I am not a quilter, I have a deep appreciation for the craft. My mother made beautiful quilts for each of her children. Alas, by the time it was my turn, her arthritis was too bad to tackle the project. Instead she bought me a beautiful hand-quilted one that I love. My favorite of hers is a coral and white Hawaiian quilt that is amazing.

    1. It’ll be a long time before we have those blooms in our garden, and there’s no way geraniums would have survived our winter! I’m hoping to plant some camellias soon. Thanks for the comment on the quilts. What a lovely gift from your mother. I’m not a very intricate quilter, but I do find the process incredibly relaxing and I just love using up all those scraps…

  3. Such a sweet pattern, the flowers look very pretty on your cowl. I love stranded knitting and find it easy because I am a continental knitter. The yarn you chose is perfect, soft and squishy and good value, too.

    It is properly cold here, too. My brakes on the bike were frozen solid (the hand levers) and I decided to walk down the hill for safety reasons. It is very pretty and I love the cold – outside. My office has no heating and the only warmth comes from an ancient plug in electric heater. Wearing hat and scarf, merino jumper and merino cardigan…

    1. I’m very glad to hear that you walked down that hill! It took me forever to change the hens’ water this morning as both the drinker and the tap were frozen solid – even opening the bolt on their run was a challenge. But the frost is very pretty.

      Thanks for your lovely comments about the cowl. I knit with a colour in each hand, normally. This winter I’ve tried a few new things: knitting with three colours at once, and working back and forth across a flat piece of colourwork. Do you knit with both yarns in your left hand, or one in each hand? Have a good week, and stay warm! I am similarly attired today…

  4. The snood is just beautiful. Not for the first time, I wish I was a more competent knitter. You have a great eye for colour. I agree that violas and and pansies are great for a bright pop in the gloomy days of winter, however my favourite winter plant will always be snowdrops. I look forward to the cold snap which will wake them up, and seeing their tiny heads push through the snow ( of which we have plenty at the moment) Enjoy your knitting. I’m crocheting snoods , must put a photo up on instagram, but not so lovely as yours. X

    1. Thank you! I’m going to plant a few pots of violas to have on the patio next winter, so I can admire them while I’m cooking. I’m also looking forward to seeing what comes of the bulb lasagnas I made in the autumn – the crocuses will hopefully appear in February/ March…

      I would love to see you latest snoods, and am wearing one of yours at the moment. Do post a picture! x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.