Monday, January 04, 2010

Horticultural knitting

I'm quite easy to buy Christmas presents for, since more or less anything gardening-related will do (except plants: friends and relatives learn quickly that if I haven't asked for it, it's horrible to grow/horrible to look at/horrible to look after and I WON'T LIKE IT. Call me picky, but it's better just not to buy them for me. Sorry.)

But among many lovely green-fingered gifts this year was one that made me laugh out loud, and neatly combined my other secret obsession: knitting.

Jan Messent's Knitted Gardens, given to me by my sister-in-law, is the wackiest but most wonderful idea I've ever come across. It strikes me this may be the perfect way for the frustrated gardener to while away the winter months while still getting that all-important horticultural fix.

It's pretty straightforward, and I suspect rapidly becomes very addictive. I don't know who made the gardens photographed for the book itself but they're exquisite: every flower is picked out, every fence scrambling with climbers, every shrub a riot of blossom and fuzzy woolly colour. There are veg gardens for the allotment-minded and very ornamental gardens for those who prefer flowers. And, this being unaffected by the seasons, you can make your garden any way you want it.

Apologies for the photographs here - they're just pics of the book - but I got very carried away by these. This one on the left is a cottage garden - it's actually a wall hanging and this is just one section of it. The row of cottages with their knitted roofs and crocheted conifers and the perfect pathways are just so gorgeous.

Jan tactfully mentions that this wasn't the work of just one person: she does suggest that if you're doing this yourself you should probably enlist the help of your local schoolchildren or at the very least the nearest WI. But oh, my knitting fingers are itching.... I can feel myself about to embark on a very silly project here.

This isn't the only thing in the book, mind you: there are some throws (nice) and a to-die-for potager bedspread like a perfect little herb garden complete with loopy green wool lavender.

I may work my way up to the wall-hanging by way of the bedspread (that should take me at least five years at the current rate of progress: I am the world's slowest knitter and the stack of projects-in-progress is also high and getting higher). I'll have a warm-up with this - the smallest project in the book and a little vegetable-garden-on-a-cushion. Complete with cabbages, caulis, carrots and leeks...

If there has ever been a reason to take up knitting, this surely has to be it.

Now, once I get to the wall-hanging.... I feel a communal knitting project coming on. Any keen knitters out there want to help me out in about 10 years' time?


Su said...

Oh I love it - i want to buy this book!

Ms B said...

I did once knit 3 cacti!

The Constant Gardener said...

Su - have you got a birthday coming up? a few little hints should do the trick...

and Ms B - I think we should see pictures :D

VP said...

I have this book as well - I used it as an example of a 'garden book hybrid' in a piece I wrote for the Garden Monkey's Book Flange a while ago.

Sadly I haven't knitted a single thing from it yet - perhaps we should start a joint project to egg each other on ;)

Ms B needs to not only supply photos, but hints and tips!

Jen and Rich Johnson said...

So neat! I have my library window open - will have to check and see if they have this book!

Ms B said...

Much as I would love to show off my knitting prowess I don't have any pictures of said cacti. I think I saw one somewhere, thought 'I can do that' & did. I even had them in little terracotta pots sorrounded with glued on gravel. One was pale green hairy wool & another dark green velvety sort of stuff. I now think I should see if I have any appropriate wool & have another bash........possibly!

Anna said...

Oh what fun - would that I could manage more than mere knit and purl : )

The Constant Gardener said...

VP - I might have known you'd have already come across this one :D Right, I'm holding you to that - when I start my wall-hanging cabbage-knitting marathon I'm recruiting you first!

And Ms B - what I'm now curious about is what happened to your knitted cacti. I have visions of them cropping up in a charity shop somewhere and someone even at this very moment gazing at them lovingly on their mantelpiece. There can be few more out-there ornaments than a knitted cactus.

and Anna - you only need knit and purl! that's the beauty of knitting! So if you can do that - you're second on my list. But don't worry, if cabbages are beyond you I'll get you doing the leeks :D

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