Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Gentle Domesticity week 9 book study...


This new chapter will explore the pleasures and delights of the various textures of domesticity.

For my part, I love mixing my salads by hand. I enjoy the fact that when making scones you need to get your fingers in the flour and break up the butter until the mixture feels like soft breadcrumbs. I love running my hands over linen fabric to feel the uneven bobbles and the slightly open weave. I’ll always hold a Queensland Blue pumpkin slightly longer than is necessary just to run my hands over the wonderfully smooth curve of the grey-blue skin. And there’s something incredibly lovely about diving below the turquoise blue water and swimming with the tide. 

I've always been rather tactile and easily distracted with the need to touch, and it seems our Jane's a bit that way too. In TEXTURES she'll really make us stop and consider the everyday things we interact with but perhaps don't take time to 'feel'.

 Texture is everywhere for those who take time to notice and indulge, but as Jane Brocket writes…

“We live in the digital era and increasingly spend our days in a cocoon of space, dealing with the virtual…it is quite possible to pass whole days without making contact with any natural surfaces or textures.” (page 70)

Jane goes on to observe the current perception that many domestic activities are unpleasant.  For example - swapping a good scrubbing brush for soft scented cleaning wipes; buying all machine washable clothes and no longer hand washing  delicates or wool; using a tumble dryer instead of hanging clothes in the sun, wind and rain;  buying many prepared meals and not making use of our sharp knives and chopping boards.
Obviously she’s not totally against any of those things, but she does emphasise how by conforming to those lifestyle choices we lose a sense of touch in our life.

“If we stop feeling our way through life, stop handling materials, we become passive and dependent on the ready made and textureless….If we can no longer bake a loaf of bread, test a cake for done-ness, plant a bulb, knit a simple garment, sew a quilt, we are quite helpless.” (page 70)


Jane loves yarn and the next four pages expand on this.

 “I’m a great believer in knitting with the best you can afford….Cheap yarn may seem a good idea at the point of purchase but when it splits…has a downright unpleasant texture, you will regret the decision.” (page 72)

Jane lists her favourite yarns and what she likes about them (with regards to texture)…

Cashmere:  So when I do splurge on a few skeins of cashmere I use them to knit items that allow me to appreciate the texture of this fabulously baby-bottom-soft yarn all the time I’m wearing them.”

Angora:  Its exaggerated manic fluffiness makes me smile every time I touch it. The very best yarns are 100% angora and not the cheaper skeins with a nylon mix.

Wool:  For me, wool is the touchstone yarn. It’s traditional, it’s natural, it’s classic but it’s also whatever you want it to be. Wool is what knitting is about.

Linen: Knitting with linen yarn is like knitting with smooth string. The results are stunning, giving a cool, lightly open stitch and a fabulous surface texture that wears wonderfully and softens and improves with washing. (for those who have the book you can see a photo of Jane’s knitted linen apron on page 121)

Silk: 100% silk yarns are hard to find and come in tiny, little lustrous jewel-like skeins. Just unravelling them and winding the silk into a ball is an exotic, tactile experience.

Mohair: Knitting with mohair is like handling a very supple, furry caterpillar. It almost tickles your fingers and makes you laugh.

“I choose yarns that not only meet the pattern specifications and express my colour ideas, but are also a real pleasure to knit with. I am going to spend a good deal of time handling a yarn, so it has to repay that investment.” (page 73)

Chewy Flapjacks

“Since they are not expected to be the beauties of the baking parade, their texture, like their inner goodness, counts for much more than their looks.” (page 76)

Like Jane our family love golden syrup and pretty much anything made using it. The recipe she shares for Flapjacks must be made using that delicious ingredient and not substituting with things like honey, maple syrup or molasses because it just won’t taste right.
It’s golden syrup, ladies, or it’s nothing.

I decided to make this recipe today and will be totally honest and tell you I chose to make Mary Berry's version because it has more golden syrup and less sugar.

I can sincerely attest to its yumminess and also the wonderful texture. 

To me, when it came out of the oven it looked like a rocky track along the mountainside and I just had to touch it as it cooled.

It’s also perfect for finger licking before and after being baked.

Mary's recipe is here and I'll share Jane's below...

175g (6oz) butter
175g (6oz) soft brown sugar
1 rounded tablespoon of golden syrup (one metric tablespoon = 4 teaspoons so use about 5 teaspoons)
250g (9oz) porridge/whole oats

Melt the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a saucepan, and then mix in the oats.
Spread in an 8" square cake tin and cook at 150c (300f) for about 40 minutes.

Jane's other books...

You may or may not know that Jane Brocket wrote a series of 'The gentle art of..." books and one of them was on knitting.

I have had my copy for years and at one stage decided to follow her pattern and knit some colourful socks (something rarely needed in the tropics where I live, but you know...?).

Sadly, this was something which just didn't work for me. Knitting in the round with four needles and a bodgy finger to boot, it was a frustrating five days before I just gave up. Mr E did all he could to contain his laughter at my gasps, sighs, not nice words and ridiculous facial expressions on each of those five evenings, eventually requesting I never play with four pointed knitting needles again.

I have obeyed.


The giveaway winner this month is Judy1522!
Congratulations, Judy, I've sent you an email and can't wait to find out what book you've chosen to receive.

Rather than a list of questions this week I thought we could spend the next seven days honing our awareness of the textures around us.

This could be the food we handle, the fabric we sew with, the hair we brush, the carpet we walk on, the yarn we knit with or the different leaves in our garden and surrounds. Texture is everywhere so lets take time each day over the coming week to touch and notice.

Next week we'll read through pages 78-83

This morning I did a month's worth of exercise weeding the garden so after baking the Flapjacks I collapsed on the couch for a while and began stitching a new design. Gosh, it was not easy to get up from the couch and write this blog post and if it wasn't for fresh brewed coffee it may have been delayed a day or two, and I hate putting things off. 
Very grateful for coffee right now. 
Not very grateful for weeds. 

I'm off to the optometrist tomorrow for an eye exam and will meet up with Blossom and the little ones for coffee afterwards. I have some gorgeous photos of the dress Bloss and I made for Rafaella's 1st birthday but will share them in a day or two. 
There's even a pattern once I write it.

Every week in the Tuesday book study post I'm encouraging readers and lovers of the gentle domestic life who have a current blog and have blogged about Living the Gentle Domestic Life this year to link their relevant weekly book study post for others to come by, visit their blogs and be inspired. 

 Please do not link to the same post on your blog each week.  Your posts should be new and relevant to the current week's study.

NOTE: If your link is advertising or not a true reflection of the heart for living a gentle domestic life it will be deleted. 

Bless you heaps, I hope you have a wonderful day. 
And remember, we're all going texture-y this week...



Shortbread and Ginger said...

Oh my gosh! The saying at the start of your post really rang a bell for me. Last year I did practically no crafting and only now realise how empty my life had become. I need the joy of fabric and wool and the satisfaction of completing something hand made to really make me feel good! Thank you.

TerriSue said...

Dear Jenny, I like all of the orange in the pictures above. About two years ago I realized that orange was my happy color. Whenever I wore it I seemed to have more bounce in my step. I started to add more orange to my wardrobe. Since Jim died I have just been wearing black and navy. I don't know how long I will be doing this...I suppose Abba will let me know when the best time is to add color back into my apparel. I have been working with it though. Several of the swaddling blankets I am making for little Winifred are orange or I am putting orange on them.
In yarn there is one that is a combination of linen and cotton that I like though I can't remember the name of it. I also like viscose. It feels like silk but not if that makes sense. I recently bought some orange cotton yarn to make up some dishcloths though they won't go with my kitchen. I knew that knitting them would be a pleasure for me and then using them would be also. It doesn't matter if they match or not.
The texture I am honing into these days is Bits' fur. She has long fluffy fur. When her leg was wrapped the fur near the wrap was sticky because of the adhesive. She is a little Papillon. She weighs 7 pounds right now though her optimum weight is 5 pounds. The thing she likes best in the world is to sit in my lap, as she is doing right now. I constantly stroke her through the day. Even though I thought I got her brushed out on Saturday she is still matted on the back half. The difference in the feel of her coat is quite astonishing. So even though she hates it I will be continuing to brush her out.
Thank you for a lovely post. I intend to make the flapjacks to send home with Emily when she and the little one come to dinner tomorrow. Her husband spent so many summers in Australia. His dad is Australian and lives just down the street from them. They both appreciate when I make up some of your recipes for them to eat.

Lin said...

I made Jane's flapjacks this week and love them. As much as I love golden syrup - spoonfuls straight out of the tin are not unknown! - I think that too much makes them chewier than I like. I love finding different textures especially around our garden. Oh and I love knitting socks with four needles - I fail to see how these circular needles can take their place. Socks are such a great small project - just enough amount of technical difficulty to keep them interesting but not such a hige project that takes months to complete. Congratulations to your winner Jenny and thank you for another interesting post. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
texture! great topic! It's going to be a fun one!
knitting and crochet....not for me! Gave them both a try over the years...and no, I think I'll stick to other hobbies!
Enjoy the texture filled days ahead!

africanaussie said...

Ha! those flapjacks are very similar to a recipe my Mom used to make. My Mom like me was always trying ways to make her baking healthier, and so the recipe now has added nuts and seeds, and less butter and sugar. I could feel those textures as I read them, and I love fine yarn but really cannot afford it, but it will not stop me crocheting and knitting. I recently made a baby blanket for my new grandchild, and it was so soft and cuddly.

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
weeding...right plant wrong place? or is it a real invasive plant? Lots of texture in the garden! I'll have to google weeds in Townsville!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Definite weeds - the kind that take over the garden and crowd out 'real' plants.

Su said...

I'm afraid I have to agree to disagree a bit with Jane here. I can and do knit with acrylic yarn, it would be a little ridiculous to knit say a tea cosy, in cashmere. Whilst I do enjoy knitting with some fine yarns, not all are a joy to work with, some wool for instance is horribly scratchy, linen is hard and unyielding and even silk is extremely difficult to knit. I particularly like knitting with acrylic and then 'killing' it, so that it takes on a wonderful drape and softness. And hand knitted socks are the most uncomfortable things I have ever worn! I know some people rave about them, but they actually hurt the soles of my feet. I don't think I have particularly sensitive feet and have tried wearing my hand knitted socks inside out but it doesn't help.

Jenny have you tried the magic loop method of knitting? I can and do knit with 4 or5 dpns, but I prefer magic loop and there's less danger of your knitting coming of the needles whilst it's being stored, though I know hot everyone likes magic loop.

Ondrea said...

As humans I think we are basically tactile creatures who need physical touch. I love the softness of cashmere but unfortunately I cannot wear or knit with mohair or angora because it irritates my nose and throat. Wool can be soft or coarse to the touch and bamboo is so soft when knitted. I am usually barefooted in the house unless it is really cold and I like being barefooted on grass feeling my feet sink into the lawn and it creep between my toes. I am with you when it comes to knitting socks...too complicated and too frustrating lol.

Sherry said...

Oh how I do love textures and touching them. It is very difficult to try to have little ones not touch everythng in a store when they may see me doing exactly what I ask them not to do. LOL. I love fabrics and must always touch them. Same for beads and fibers and...well you get the idea. I even touch paint on vehicles if I love the color. My new Jeep is Diamond Black Crystal Clearcoat and I am always touching it...caressing it... Blessings Jenny Dear.

Allie said...

LOVE texture - I remember Sam, when he was little, would touch everything going into a store and I would have to tell him to use his "museum hands", lol, meaning to keep them in his pockets. He would flex his little fingers and wail "but I have to touch SOMETHING!" It makes it hard sometimes buying clothing or socks - they have to be just right, you know? And you don't always know they're not right until you actually wear them all day.
I hope you're recuperating after all that weeding, ugh - your freshened up home looks so lovely, so peaceful and cheery, love seeing the Lemon Tree in the pantry, lol. Love you girl!

Debby in Kansas, USA said...

I must've read that paragraph about losing our feeling ability and becoming helpless about 10 times. It's so true! That's such a basic part of learning and it never ends. I have always been fascinated over the feeling of water. I've swam all my life and I still get in the pool and find myself watching it swirl around me as I exercise or just run my fingers through it. I'm sure some people see me and wonder if I'm nuts! I'm late to post this, but I plan to spend the next few days feeling my way around!

I'm intrigued about the power of that Golden Syrup and that only a TB could make so much of a difference! I know of a British tea shop not too far away and I'll have to see if they carry it.

I just read up on Christchurch. So very sad. Next to home, church is where I feel my safest. How tragic that these terrorists probably use that in their schemes.