The Beauty of Green Things


‘On some day of late January, when the honey-coloured west is full of soft grey cloud, when one lone minstrel thrush is chanting to the dying light, what is the thrill that shakes us?’ This is how Mary Webb starts The Spring of Joy (first published in 1917), a lovely collection of essays about the healing power of nature. This ‘thrill that shakes us’, she writes, is a sense of ‘oneness with all beauty, seen and unseen’.

It is early February now, and unlike the south of the country we haven’t had any snow so far. Over the past month the sky has often been ‘full of soft grey cloud’. Or a uniform dull grey. Or pouring with rain. How can we experience a sense of oneness with all beauty on days like that?

Well, there are subtler things than stunning sunsets and spectacular snowscapes. Webb writes about the beauty to be found in the movements, sounds and scents of nature. Or in shadow or shape. In the presence of an old oak tree…

… surrounded by sheep and buffeted by an invigorating breeze I know what she means.

In this little gem of a book, there is also an essay about The Beauty of Colour. According to Webb, ‘Of all colours, brown is the most satisfying.’ I don’t know about that, but I do agree with her when she writes: ‘In blue the spirit can wander, but in green it can rest’.

On the whole blue is my favourite colour – my spirit loves to wander. But at the moment I am also strongly drawn to green.

I’ve finished the Norwegian-patterned mittens for our daughter, woven in the ends and washed them. The last thing to do now is knitting in the linings. While the mittens were drying, I made a start on a green cardigan for our grandson knit from the top down:

The lovely fir-tree-like pattern along the raglan increases posed quite a puzzle. It’s taken me several attempts to get the hang of it, but I’m on the right track now.

And looking for something else, I came across a skein of a beautiful green tweed yarn. It’s been in my stash for a long, long time. Now I’d love to knit it up into something special, but what? A pair of mittens? A cowl? A hat?

Speaking of the beauty of green things and the healing power of nature, I’ve just finished reading Landlines by Raynor Winn. A dear friend gave it to me as a birthday gift last year. I didn’t read it straightaway but kept it to have something to look forward to for January. This is the hardcover edition – it is worth having for the beautiful dust jacket alone.

It is also very much worth reading. Landlines is actually the third book in a series. I haven’t read the first two (The Salt Path and The Wild Silence), but that wasn’t a problem – it can be read on its own.

The author’s husband, Moth, has a neurodegenerative disorder (similar to Parkinson and Alzheimer) for which there is no cure. He is told that his condition will only deteriorate. After this devastating diagnosis and subsequently losing their home, they make the unusual decision to walk the 630-mile-long South West Coast Path (described in the first book). This turns out to lead to a miraculous improvement in Moth’s health.

In Landlines, Moth’s health has gone downhill again and the couple set out for another long-distance walk, this time starting in the north of Scotland. It’s a moving personal story with unexpected twists and turns, interesting encounters and insights, and beautiful descriptions of the landscape and wildlife along the way.

Well, I’m going to make a start on the mitten linings now and hope to have them finished by next week. To close off here is a picture of some twists and turns in our most recent non-so-long-distance walk. Take care! xxx

NB: De boeken van Raynor Winn zijn ook in het Nederlands vertaald: Het zoutpad, De wilde stilte en Landlijnen.

9 thoughts on “The Beauty of Green Things”

  1. Beautiful skein of green yarn, with a hint of blue. I’d go for wristlets or fingerless mittens. I’d divide the skein into two balls, cast on beyond the cuff with a provisional cast on, and then when the mittens are ready, you can unrafel the cast on and knit the cuff until you have just enough yarn left to bind off. That way you can use (almost) every bit of the yarn and you wouldn’t have to be afraid to run out of it.
    A hat sounds wonderful too, but at 125 m that might be a game of yarn chicken?

    • That’s a great idea, thanks! It’s just what I’m worried about, running out of yarn just before the project is finished.

  2. I truly enjoyed your post, Marieke. I liked the way you began and ended your piece with references to books, and sandwiched in between you wrote about knitting…both of which are my passions!.
    I shall be checking out both books, especially the second one. My dear husband was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment over two years ago. I’m always looking for insights from others with regard to dealing with the situation. It sounds like a fascinating read.
    Many thanks,

    • Oh, that is so sad. The books by Raynor Winn will certainly be valuable reads for you. Her husband is facing both physical and cognitive impairments. It’s not quite certain what it is about their long-distance walks that improves his health. It may just be the movement, and especially walking on uneven ground. Or spending so much time in nature, or other factors, or everything together. And even if that’s not for you, just reading about someone struggling with a similar situation may help.

      • Many thanks for your message.
        I just ordered the book this morning, and look forward to reading it, although my TBR list is embarrassingly LONG! Nevertheless, this one will move to the top of the pile.
        Meanwhile, I have two skeins of Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal, and I’m not sure why I purchased it. Perhaps you might have mentioned it in your blog, and I was inspired!
        Could you kindly check and see if you did, indeed, use it for a project? I’m trying to pair my yarn with its pattern and placing them into plastic bags.
        Thanks, Marieke.

        • It’s a well-written and insightful book, imho, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading it. Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal, hmmm, no I don’t think I’ve ever written about it. It’s a lovely yarn, though. I knit a cardigan from it once, but that was before I started blogging and would take more than two skeins. You could knit my Thús design from one skein, or Thús 2 using both skeins. Another nice shawl from 2 skeins would be Waiting for Rain by Sylvia McFadden. Well, there are many lovely pattern ideas for these two skeins on Ravelry. You could also look at patterns for Brooklyn Tweed Loft, which is not exactly the same but quite similar (except that it comes in 50 g skeins).

  3. Hi Marijke,
    I have both of your Thus patterns. What a great idea!
    Also, I have realized the reason for purchasing these two skeins. i had seen The Hitchhiker
    Scarf done in the Debbie Bliss Fine Donegal, and i liked the rustic look of it.
    I will let you know what I intended to use for your two patterns.
    This is what i have been doing these days… matching yarn with pattern, and organizing my lovely yarns this in this way.
    I still have not received the book, Landline, as yet. I am anxious to read it.
    Many thanks for the insight that you provide in your extraordinary blog.

    • A great idea, matching yarns and patterns – what a lovely series of projects you’ll have ready and waiting. The Hitchhiker would be a great take-along project.

  4. I’ve had the Raynor Winn books on my tbr for quite a while but at present am trying to move books out. Between books and yarn, my storage is overflowing!

    I wonder what you ended up doing with the skein of green Shelter? It’s such an interesting yarn.

    Your thoughts on green (and brown) have been with me a lot. We just returned from a road trip to the U.S. southwest. It is beautiful but there were more shades of brown, yellow, tan, and rust than green, and it was glorious. I am always so surprised by the colors in nature that I didn’t “think” I liked. So interesting!

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