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)
“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.
MARCH GIVEAWAY WINNER
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...