May 2007: Late Spring
The island and the garden are at their loveliest. The last traces of daffodils, forsythia and grape hyacinths are finally disappearing to be replaced by bluebells and cheeky pansies.
Most amazing after ten years is the appearance of four giant buds on my peony plants which have rewarded me despite digging up, frustration, impatience and a few swear words because they would never bloom.
To everything there is a season.
The weather is changeable (we’re hoping that wasn’t summer we had last Tuesday and Wednesday), but I’ve managed a few outings to the beach and into the glens.
On Easter Sunday I went with a friend on the small ferry to Holy Isle where we walked round past the Tibetan Buddhist retreat house to the old lighthouse, which was built by the family of Robert Louis Stevenson and is one of the few square lighthouses in Britain.
Sailing back across the bay to Arran I was reminded again never to take the surrounding splendour for granted and to include an appreciation of the environment in my Zen of everyday living.
In my life Arran and knitting are inextricably linked. Since I came here 32 years ago the island has not only provided me with the raw materials of wool for spinning and plants for dyeing.
I’ve also met women who’ve passed on their techniques and experiences and incorporated many a chat about plain and purl into my next design.
That’s certainly true of the lace patterns which are the special feature in our on-line pattern collection this time.
“Island Lace” was given to me by a lady in Lochranza whose mother taught her to knit lace in fine cotton to use as edgings for household linens.
Here it is knitted in 2-ply wool from Jamieson & Smith, Shetland.
“Feather and Fan” is a popular lace design. This version of it came from a friend whose mother-in-law was from Shetland. She was an expert in wedding-ring shawls which are so fine that an entire shawl can be drawn through a wedding ring.
I have updated the pattern combining Debbie Bliss “Cashmerino” and Louisa Harding’s “Impression”. The result is stunning.