Forage and Forest

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Autumn in a Canadian Woodland

” I’m so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, 1908.

Sometimes I feel so honoured and lucky that I live on the island that inspired L.M.  Montgomery.  Reading through her journals, she is the essence of Anne: highly spirited, optimistic, in love with nature and bewitched with a powerful imagination.  Strong and willing to take on new challenges with an upbeat perspective on the world – or wallow temporarily in the depths of despair before the silver lining inevitably lifts her out.   I feel like as soon as Autumn rolls around, I start seeing quotes everywhere from a book that dates back over 100 years. She spoke so crystal clear to our hearts.  What matters in life but love for our friends, family and the breathing planet?  Our willingness to join it as personally and enthusiastically?

Ash Berries
Ash Berries

Today, I split wood until my body told me to stop.  The sky fluctuated between bright shining sun and total overcast with spitting rain.  The Ash trees are heavy with berries and the maples are burnt orange.   The split wood pile is growing and growing with every ache and pain and I’m feeling more confident about winter.  More willing to embrace her like the old friend that she really is.

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Split and stacked wood – one of our many piles springing up around our simple house.
Calendula
Calendula in our garden – I left many of the flowers this year rather than pick and dry them for soap or whatever.

I keep telling myself that I will share with you all so much about the past year.  It’s studded with heart ache (maybe L.M. is a kindred spirit after all?) and excitement.  I mentioned briefly a book… well.  I had signed a contract in the spring to write for you a knitting book.  I was excited beyond belief (okay, and terrified) and inspired.  Patterns and design began to flow so freely from my heart and I finally dedicated the time to writing patterns, not words but codes and numbers.  K1, Sl1, Psso.  Perhaps fortuitously, my wrists stopped me from proceeding.  I could hardly hold my phone let a lone knit anything.  When this pain started I chose to ignore it.  I decided it was temporary, that I could keep going.  However, it became obvious that I had to stop.  I didn’t understand, I had knit just as much in the past without consequence? I had typed 2 degrees out while knitting frantically, playing guitar and mandolin in addition to a healthy addiction to Skyrim to balance myself.  All of which, required the strenuous use of my fingers, thumb and wrists. Why now?

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Socks for my very good friend ❤ I love knitting with a friend in mind – using Malabrigo Sock yarn 😀
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Work space facing West

When I met my partner Jamie, he has just received a diagnosis of Tendonitis. He was finishing his bachelor of music in guitar.  I remember that this was crushing news to him and although he still played guitar, graduated with first class honours, his wrist has never truly recovered.  He advised me to just stop completely because the pain would develop into something that may be irreversible.  So, my friends, I canceled my book deal.  I took pretty well the whole summer off from knitting, from using my phone.  The deadline for the book has already passed and I’m only now beginning to feel fully confident in typing and knitting to my hearts content.

This decision was extremely difficult for me to face.  I thought I was failing.  But what scared me more, was the idea that I wouldn’t be able to use my hands in the same way that I have my whole life.  Tirelessly.

I am really, really sorry that I couldn’t do this for all of you.  I always feel like everything happens for a reason and perhaps another opportunity will poke it’s little head.  You may wonder why I said it was fortuitous?  I just need to think of it in this way to not totally descend into that depth we were talking about earlier.  It’s okay and good things are to come.  This I trust.

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Forage Sweater

You may wonder, where are these patterns?  Well, my Elf Pine Socks were originally dreamed up for the book.  Many, I have just sitting on my computer.  I have a cowl, that I’m going to post freely on my blog when I make at least one more in another colour and then there is this sweater.   The forage sweater.

I wrote the following for this design, fragmented but still holding onto what I hoped would carry with the design, the wool, the hands that create:

Autumn is one of my favourite times of the year – The fields and forest are cast in a golden hue of summer’s end;

The vines that I have been eyeing throughout the heat of the summer are now heavy with juicy blackberries and raspberries.  The abandoned apple trees are abuzz with activity as I fill baskets avoiding the wasps that inevitably feast on the fallen apples.  The mushrooms pop their fungi heads and all the world is full!  I always feel like the world provides for us and the harvests of a forager in autumn is one sure way.  Our pantry will be well stocked with jams and preserves from my time spent picking from forgotten berry patches and old homesteads.”

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The Forage Sweater at the Bay of Fundy – I really love this design.

It was very clear to me that I wasn’t going to be able to finish all of the designs in time for the deadline with my injury (can I call it a sporting injury?  I sound more cool  :D) .  I was like 12 designed short and yes, I have to knit everything – multiple times- to design it.  This sweater ended up taking me a long time to finish and was truly knit just listening to my intuition and not writing anything down.  It almost became a closure knitting project.  If there is enough interest in it, I will add it to the designs that I am going to be working on all winter.

So, I have set the challenge out to finally get out my knitting patterns to the world.  Instead of focusing on new designs, I am going to get out the many sweater patterns that I’ve designed over the course of my life here on P.E.I.  This to me, is exciting!  Because of the overwhelming feedback and requests for the Pangur Ban Pattern, this sweater will be the first to emerge.

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Rust Pangur Ban sweater

October has so much promise and I’m looking forward to our Canadian Thanksgiving next weekend.  For now, I’m going to leave you.  My mind has stopped working and I’m ready to just sink into one last walk and knitting.  Maybe some ghost stories and a bath 🙂

Many, Many Autumnal blessings and thank you for reading ❤

Julia

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Forage Sweater at the Bay of Fundy

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Leaving you with just one of the most beautiful messages ❤

And some music by my favourite Medieval revival group, Vox Vulgaris:

15 thoughts on “Forage and Forest

    1. I’m so very thankful and grateful for the patterns you already sell at your etsy shop you can’t imagine!😍 I am really looking forward to the Pangur Ban and when you do release it I will honor your struggling Journey by carefully choosing the prettiest colors I can imagine for my very own Pangur Ban sweater💕✨ bless you Julia and take good care, there is only one of you 🥰 love from Sara (and all the way from Sweden)

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  1. I’m very happy that you took Jamie’s advice regarding your injury. Always,always, always rest after injuries. The waiting can be frustrating but is worth it.
    I cannot imagine not seeing another of your designs, patterns, or reading about your lovely PEI – rest well.
    Blessings from the mountains of South Carolina-
    Debra

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  2. The essence of this post is right there in your line…I split wood until my body told me to stop. How wise you are to know to listen to your body, listen to your partner, listen to your intuition, and being willing to make those hard decisions. Your designs will find their way out into knitters’ hands, and we get to read your words and insights here on your blog. Yours is one of my very favorites…your writing, your drawings, your photos, and your beautiful designs, all of a piece, and so very lovely.

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  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your injury. Having succumbed to RSI and tendonitis in the past, I completely agree with Jamie and would have given the same advice. You did the right thing. It must have been very disappointing to have to pause the book, but your work is so festive and charming that I am positive this is by far the last opportunity that will come your way!Good luck with getting all your work ready for self-publishing! I love your blog and your work. Best wishes from London, Anushka

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  4. Hi Julia
    I’m sorry you have been struggling with your wrists but glad to hear that with rest you are now recovering and able to do what you love again. I have flare ups with my elbow occasionally and it’s frustrating to have to restrict myself to just a couple of rows per evening while it settles down.
    Your affinity with nature shines through your designs and your writing, and your latest ‘Forage sweater’ is a beauty – the yoke positively glows. Am looking forward to the release of Pangur Ban into the big wide knitting world 🙂 I regularly have a scroll through your blog posts just for the pleasure of having it appear on my screen
    Take good care of yourself
    From a very wet Derbyshire hillside, Jane x

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  5. I too love L M Montgomery’s wonderful descriptions of nature. Also suffer with tendonitis in wrists and thumbs. So have to reluctantly stop knitting until it feels better. So pleased you can knit again. Just take it slowly!

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  6. I too love Lucy Monthomery’s nature descriptions. Yes you are lucky to live on PEI!
    I suffer with tendonitis in thumbs and wrists too. Resting from knitting for a while is necessary – but frustrating!

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  7. Another absolutely gorgeous sweater design, Julia! Those socks are really beautiful too. I am so happy to read that you will be continuing to work on publishing your designs, in spite of all the physical pain, heartache, and disappointment you had to suffer over the summer. Hopefully the pace of doing one at a time will be more manageable and sustainable. I am truly so excited to see and knit every one! And thrilled that Pangur Ban is up next!

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  8. Julia,

    As always, I enjoyed your blog post. You write with a voice that is pure and honest, just as authors from days of yore used to write. I see you go on to write beautiful fiction to children, artfully blessed with your lovely drawings. Stores inspire by your own life on your Island, about the magick of nature, of plants and woodland animals.. ✨
    I am sorry you had to let go of your book deal and that you hurt your wrists. The book, I have no doubt, will happen some day and I too believe everything happen for a reason.
    Weirdly, I had a similar injury, in my thumb just a month ago. I had finally started on my very first lopapeysa inspired by the beautiful one you knit for your nephew, but 10 cm in, My thumb started aching badly. Stubbornly, I ignored it and carried on for a short while, but had to give in. Like you, I have never had a problem like that and I was terrified. It took a week and a half before I could start to knit a single round, so I was lucky. But the scare was real.
    I’m excited to see your patterns in the future and again, loved this post.
    Ps: Henry is working that orange safety vest. 😘

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  9. Julia,

    Thank you so much for these words! I know that I often feel the pressure to do more and more and it can be hard to know when you have taken on more than your body can handle.
    As someone who works with her hands frequently, I cannot even imagine the terror and heartache of having them simply refuse to work for you. Living so much in my mind, I forget that I have bones attached to my thoughts.
    Thank you again for reminding me that I can’t always be working and that it is just as important to listen to my body as it is to my heart!

    Love, Valentine

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