I've needed a temporary distraction from my blanket-making - something quick and pleasing and if with a nod to the mood of the season, so much the better. So with "the winter's pale" hovering in my head I thought I'd hook up a "winter's pale" bowl.
Just because. I find crocheted bowls very useful - they hold balls of yarn, reels of thread, fresh rolls from the oven, letters to answer, pens and scissors, muffins, ribbons and candles. Not all at the same time, or in the same bowl, of course! I make them in mercerised, washable, cotton yarn so they can be easily washed if the rolls are floury, say, or sticky, purple, blueberry juice oozes from a muffin and the bowl's next use up, is for yarn or fabric pieces.
The pattern I use, as a starting point, is Jacquie's lovely crochet bowl pattern which you can find here but there are lots of similar patterns for crochet bowls if you have a little search - basically you crochet a circle, increasing the number of stitches in each round up to the point where you have the diameter you want and then carry on crocheting, without increases, to form the sides.
A few things that are worth remembering, if you fancy a foray into crochet bowl or basket-making yourself and haven't tried it. If you want the bowl / basket to stand up nicely without reinforcing you need to create a dense fabric with a bit of stiffness to it. To do this, you need to use a smaller hook size than you normally would for the weight of yarn, or, use the same hook size, but use the yarn double, which is what I do as per Jacquie's recommendation in her tutorial. You can use any crochet stitches for your bowl but I find the neat tightness of single crochet (double crochet in UK terms) works best. It's quite hard on your hooking fingers, working the yarn so densely though, so you may want just to do a few rows at a time.
I got carried away and made my thumb rather uncomfortably sore. You just don't know when to stop, Mrs T!
Alternatively you could use a single thickness of yarn and your normal hook size and then line the finished bowl with some stiffish fabric or spray it with spray starch. But I prefer the double strand of yarn method. Partly because it makes the colour changes potentially so interesting.
I change colours alternately so that each pair of colours pairs up with another pair in an overlapping kind of way. I use each colour for four rows at a time in total. If you use colours that are quite close to one another, you get an interesting shaded kind of effect which I really like.
The bowl is rather taller than I intended because the colours got carried away with themselves and wouldn't stop. But the result is nicely roomy which is no bad thing. Holds plenty of balls of yarn, even if here, it's lost one into the snow!
I've made another bowl in slightly warmer colours -
- the colours of rhubarb emerging from the papery, brown wrappings of its crown into deep magenta and crimson, fading as the stem gets taller to pale pink, mint and cream and with a sudden blush of cerise before its final, deeper green, umbrella-shaped leaves.
This too seems appropriate to the season even though the rhubarb in my garden is nowhere near ready to pick but it's there, beginning to show its pink stems and reminding me again that "the red blood reigns in the winter's pale."
It's pale and interesting outside today with the first proper snow of winter.
I know snow and ice can be a nuisance but I do like a bit of proper snow. The quietness; the clean strangeness of the landscape;
the stillness of the air; the pure blueness of the light in the early morning;
the swift delineation it gives to everything.
A day to make soup.
This looks pale and not very interesting but it's rather good.
Clean trim and chop a couple of leeks and a bulb of fennel and cook them in a spoonful of olive oil until softened. Add 1 cup of green split peas*; season with 2 tsps salt, some black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg; pour in about 2 pints of water and cook in a pressure cooker for 9 minutes until everything is really soft; then whizz to a purée in a blender with a dash of lemon juice and a bunch of fresh dill. Don't be tempted to omit the lemon juice - it needs it. Cheap as chips and more delicious than somehow it really ought to be, when made from such homely and humble ingredients!
*You can of course use yellow split peas, if they're easier to obtain. I like the green ones purely for the slightly glaucous, green colour they give the soup.
Wishing you a day of happy, pale inspiration!