Posted by: christinelaennec | September 14, 2015

Mid-September: Indian summer, and steeking

After a cold and rainy summer, we’ve had several warm, sunny days and even I (who make it a policy never to let the weather govern my mood!) have felt deeply appreciative.

Katharine Stewart wrote, on September 14th about 21 years ago, “A Highland autumn has a special, fragile feel.  Spring is often disappointing, late, long-awaited and chilling.  Autumn lingers precariously, as though reluctant to give in.  There is usually a fresh green bite for sheep and cattle well into November.” (A Garden in the Hills, p. 108)  I can’t decide whether autumn in Glasgow feels fragile as well.  I suppose it depends on the year, and this is only my third autumn here.  From my years in Aberdeen, I know just what she means, though.

Our young rowan tree against a blue September sky. Glasgow, 10 Sept. 2015.

Our young rowan tree against a blue September sky. Glasgow, 10 Sept. 2015.

She wrote about the beautiful wild flowers in Abriachan:  “This day the roadside is bright with late summer flowering.  Scabious! … Thistles of all sizes, yarrow, tansy, add their special forms and colours. … Further on, deep ditching had been done and here, incredibly, patches of red poppies and ox-eye daisies have appeared.  Red poppies have not been seen for years.  The seed, I believe, can stay in the ground for long periods and the plants emerge when conditions are right.” (108)  My own city garden (which includes scabious, yarrow, daisies, and purple and pink poppies) has continued to offer us a colourful display:

Bouquet from the garden, 7 September 2015.

Bouquet from the garden, 7 September 2015.

Stewart wrote about the importance of wild flowers within the boundaries of her garden:  “So there it is – a garden on the wild side, a garden which must co-exist with all the forms of life surrounding it, a garden which has taught its gardener many things.  …  Natural growth will seldom fail.  It’s thanks largely to it – willowherb, heather and many roadside flowers – that the bees are now well and active and may have made some surplus.” (p. 110)

My garden is not quite so wild as Katharine Stewart’s.  I do have a pot of nettles, and I hugely value the self-sown daisy plants; the wildflowers I planted in the lawn a year and a half ago are doing very well.  We have lots of white clover, as well as red clover, daisies, lady’s bedstraw and other delights, within the grass.  This afternoon I was delighted to see a butterfly – it went past and up too quickly for me to identify it.

This past week included the funeral of a family friend.  He was a beloved father and grandfather, and we, like many others, admired him enormously for his generosity.  He was one of the founder members of a hospice in his community in the 1980s, but he himself, who loved to travel, died suddenly while having a fabulous time in a remote country.  I was very glad indeed that Michael was able to arrange to work from home and help the Dafter, so that I could go to pay our respects.  The funeral was followed by a characteristically generous Scottish meal at a hotel, followed by copious cups of tea at the family home.  At these times, one is aware of how amazing each and every life is, and how precious our loving relationships are.  I hope that I can give some support to his widow in the weeks and months to come.

On my travels, I was very taken by these miniature models of the huge Kelpies statues at Falkirk.  I have never yet been to see them in person!  Someday.

Minature models of the Kelpies. Queen Street Station, Glasgow, September 2015.

Minature models of the Kelpies. Queen Street Station, Glasgow, September 2015.

The Dafter is recovering slowly from her cold, and has been battling great pain and fatigue, but battling nonetheless.  I am very proud of her courage and humour.  She sends you all her best – she is very appreciative of your good wishes.  She also wants me to tell you she had good eye makeup today.  The stitches of her mouth surgery have now all dissolved, which is good too.

I have continued to work on my steeked jacket.  Here is the facing of the two fronts, which runs around the neckline as well.  The next step is to sew the buttonholes through the facing, and then attach velvet ribbon, and buttons, and then sleeves!

Fabric facing on my New Leaf Jacket - still under construction, September 2015.

Fabric facing on my New Leaf Jacket – still under construction, September 2015.

The facing fabric makes me happy – it’s left over from the dress I wore on our wedding day in 1988!  Roses – some things never change.  Mind you, today is the last day I can tick the “age 45-54 box”… But many of the really essential things never change, regardless of numbers.

I wish you all a great week!



  1. Your sweater is absolutely beautiful! Wow, how I admire your knitting skills. I think I should say “happy birthday” from what you wrote above. I hope you have a wonderful day. My best wishes to you and your family, Pat xx

  2. Wow, your knitting is just amazing. Despite living all the way down in Kent I have been to see the Kelpies and thought they were fantastic. The ‘big ones’ really are enormous and I liked them a lot. We also liked going on the Falkirk Wheel.

  3. Wishing you a very happy birthday tomorrow. Your jacket looks amazing and I’d love to see the dress you wore, the bit on your jacket looks beautiful. Sorry to hear about the sudden loss of your friend, I often think a sudden loss is harder to cope with for those left behind. I hope you have a lovely day planned for tomorrow. x

  4. Happy Birthday tomorrow! Hope you have a lovely day. Your jacket is going to be beautiful, such a lovely touch with the fabric from your dress. I am very impressed with your flowers, all I have left here are the geraniums on my door step. There is a rowan tree not far away though, full of red berries, and the heather has been amazing this year. Indian Summer seems to be over here now and Autumn rains have set in. I have brought out my quilt and light the candles every morning. Take care, blessings from Pam in Norway

  5. Happy Birthday and oh is that a pretty jacket. Glad to hear the Dafter has a good sense of humor and that her eye make up is good. Will continue to keep her in our thoughts and prayers. Great pictures and information on the gardens. Your posts are always so interesting.

  6. Happy Birthday!!🌸❤️😊

  7. Hope you are having a wonderful birthday and that the Dafter is well and able to join in your celebrations. Love the jacket, the fabric is such a delightful reminder of a beautiful day for you.

  8. A very happy birthday, Christine! What a beautiful bouquet from your garden, and what a lovely idea to use material left over from the dress worn on your wedding day. I like the look of the mustard-coloured trim at the bottom of the jacket, it looks great with the pink above it. I’m looking forward to seeing the finished garment one day. Love to the Dafter, and the birthday girl. 🙂

  9. Happy Birthday, Christine! We are celebrating my youngest son’s birthday today, September 15, and he is forty years old! I hope you are having a grand celebration. 🙂

    I so admire your beautiful work on the new jacket you are finishing…and your bravery for steeking!

    So glad to know that Dafter had good eye makeup yesterday and that her stitches from the dental surgery are healed…I am still cheering you all on through your days and hoping for good health for each of you.

    While crocheting this weekend I watched some videos about Scotland and last week I read the cookbook, “A Feast of Scotland” that a friend sent me, so you have especially been in my thoughts.

    We may get an half an inch of rain Wednesday! I am so excited, but happy for you that you have had some sunny days 🙂

  10. Décidément l’Ecosse et les Alpes du sud fonctionnent à l’inverse : après un été très chaud et très beau, cette première partie de septembre est fraîche et très pluvieuse… Vos fleurs, comme toujours sont splendides et votre veste aussi… J’ai depuis plusieurs années un gilet qui attend dans mon armoire d’être “steeker”. Cela me semble impossible de prendre une paire de ciseaux et de couper dedans ! J’espère que vote fille après ce mauvais passage va aller de mieux en mieux. Bonne semaine à vous et à votre famille.

  11. Thank you all very much for your comments and the birthday wishes! I had a lovely birthday and was very spoiled by family and friends. Two of the gifts I received took the form of two different people exclaiming that I don’t look anything like 55. It shouldn’t matter, but it was very nice both times. (Not that I go around proclaiming my age, in both cases I was asked for a form!)

    I will show you the finished jacket, which I am very pleased with, soon.

    Annie, you should have a look at Kate Davies’ blog (Needled) for some reassurance about steeking. Knitted wool makes a fabric that doesn’t just fall apart. I’ll do a post detailing the steps of my jacket construction, which might reassure you about finishing your own cardigan.

  12. I am reading backwards, which probably isn’t the right way round. A belated Happy Birthday to you!!! What a lovely month to have a birthday. Enjoyed seeing more flowers from your garden. My crocosmia bloomed nicely this year — last year was the first year I had some and it was blooming in July I think. This year it waited until mid to late August which was the timing of it in Scotland when I first saw it and I think just this week it has had its final blooms. It is such a nice addition to my garden.

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