Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Perfect winter weekend = walk + bake + knit

On Saturday we decided to venture west for a walk in the Midlands, Cliff did a quick search on the web and found a good location . . . Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire.


We started our walk at the popular Brixworth Country Park visitors centre and circumnavigated the southern half of the reservoir, a total distance of 7.5 miles – just the right sort of distance to blow the cobwebs out of the mind and put roses in our cheeks!

On the way we passed some recently done hedge-laying . . .

and lots of birdlife, including a large flock of Lapwings (including one of two Golden Plovers) and these beautifully plumaged Greylag Geese . . .

After our walk we went into Brixworth village to see the church, it's set on the edge of the village on the crest of a ridge which overlooks the surrounding farmland, and it is huge . . . and very very old!

Brixworth church was build at least 1200 years ago, only a couple of hundred years after the the Romans upped and left Britain; the Saxon builders reused Roman terracotta tiles to make the massive semicircular archways. The large ground level arches (which have been infilled with stone and windows) where originally interior entrances into small side rooms, chapels or shrines off the main nave of this great basilica, maybe built when Offa was king of Mercia.

Just think how long it's stood here . . . it was over 300 years old when the Normans invaded Britain! Look at how carefully the tiles and stones have been placed to make those simple archways.

Maybe I was still thinking about those Saxon arches when I made this pear up-side down cake for our Sunday lunch?

It was easy to make . . .
- spread creamed butter and soft brown sugar over the base of a lined cake tin;
- over it, lay slices of pear and glacé cherries in pattern;
- make a sponge mixture (100g softened unsalted butter/100g caster sugar/2 eggs/100g self-raising flour) and spoon carefully over the fruit;
- bake at 180˚C for about 40 minutes until the sponge is firm;
- cool slightly and turn out onto a plate;
- eat with a generous helping of freshly made custard.

. . . and even easier to eat!

On Sunday evening I finished the shawl I've been knitting from Kauni yarn; I've been knitting this for months; it has been knitted and unraveled a couple of times because it wasn't quite right and I'm a perfectionist; it has traveled with me on trains down to London and up to Liverpool many times, until it became far to big to carry easily.

The shape and size were inspired by the shawls in a Kaffe Fassett knitting book from the 1980s. I chose two colourways of the Kauni yarn and then used a Fair Isle technique to create the patterns, which I made up as I went along and then repeated a few times.

Let's see it outside in natural light where the wintery colours really glow . . .

I was fun to knit, and became cosy and organic as it grew and grew. I worked on 1 metre long double pins, but by the end it was quite a struggle to manipulate all the stitches; so although I still have some yarn over, I decided it was big enough. I probably have enough to make a hat with the leftovers.

And lastly . . .

Thank you to everyone who signed up to get my studio newsletters, there are over twenty who missed the mailing, so I'll be sending out another batch later this evening. Then the next one will be sent at the end of February.



  1. Sometimes those flat landscapes are the most beautiful. Of course, you know that I love the photo of the closeup of the stonework. I still want to see you do a set of prints/cards of it!

  2. what a beautiful shawl - must have taken forever!

  3. That shawl is amazing Celia - the colours are subtle, yet vibrant (how is that possible at the same time?). Thanks so much for the upside down cake instructions too - I fancy this with the new season's rhubarb.

  4. I like being taken on virtual walks, being fed virtual cake & then a virtual shawl too...
    Thank you!

  5. Is the yarn variegated? Or did you work with lots of colours, as I used to.

  6. Your shawl is amazing, Celia. I love how the colours meld into each other and flow so well with the pattern. I'm also now very hungry for cake!

  7. Wow, I bet that was really unwieldy at the end, looks very good though. Presumably you worked the purl rows as well? I've been reading about women in Shetland etc. knitting in the round and then cutting the garment at the front to make a cardigan.

  8. I'm in love with your shawl Celia, it's stunning! And a glorious sky and yummy upside down cake too ... I could eat this post!!

  9. What a great weekend; I love your shawl, how clever to make up the pattern!

  10. Celia, where to begin my comments? Let me start with what a pleasure it was to see where you took that long, long walk.

    To be able to see a church that has been around for so many generations is quite a gift. I am sure that its arches must have planted a notion that showed up in that delicious looking cake.

    Thank you for the recipe. I might have to try it myself. If I do get around to it, I will send you my comments.

    Now...that shawl is magnificent, and I thank you for the link to the source of the gorgeous yarn. I love starting with some vintage KF inspiration, either shape or fair isle concept and then just playing with whatever yarn I might have handy.

    Please do make a little cap from your left over yarn!


  11. What a lovely post to read over breakfast! That church is amazing, even in the photos you can almost feel the history seeping out of the stones.
    The shawl is a work of art, is it really only two colourways of a variegated yarn? It give such beautiful shadings of colour. I think you are going to need it in the next few days too! P x

  12. You knitted that ? - its incredible!!! I can't believe how detailed it is. Beautiful. As for the building, stone work and old bricks, lovely combination.

  13. Your shawl is amazing! No wonder it took you a long time to finish it - now you can be a proud owner of that beautiful thing.

    P.S. I also love your photos and the cake ;)

  14. What a beautiful church Celia. The architectural detail is wonderful. It never fails to amaze me hoe men without set squares etc produced such gorgeous work that has stood up for centuries. As for the knitting... I am gobsmacked! Fabulous colour blends in a Kaffe Fassett pattern I recognise from all that time ago. Works so well though. Congratulations on wrestling with metre long needles. I could not do that for love nor money. If I did not sign up for the newsletter may I do so now?

  15. FABULOUS shawl! Infact, wonderful blog post! That hedging looks like a piece of Andy Goldsworthy, isn't it beautiful! And the church, wow, what an extraordinary place, to have stood so stoically for all that time, such an achievement. What a wonderful piece of knitting Celia, well done! Vanessa xxx

  16. The shawl is gorgeous! So you won't be needing your coat when you wear that one out of doors! There is something about the Kauni colour changes (and blends) isn't there?

  17. Lovely pictures of the church architecture, really enjoyed those.

    Your shawl is absolutely gorgeous. A matching hat would be just perfect!

  18. Just wanted to say, what a be-autiful shawl!!

  19. Love all of your pictures.And the cake too :) looks very delicious and smooth :v


I love reading all the comments (except for spam and advertising which I will delete) and I'll reply here in the comments under each blog post, it may take a few days if I'm busy.
You don't need to have a blog to leave a comment, you can select the name/URL option and fill in just your name instead of a blog link.