If you’ve spent any time in the world of craft blogs, nature blogs, Oh-I-wish-I-were-there blogs or mostly just blogs, the chances are you’ve come across Emma’s website, Silver Pebble. Emma is a craftsperson, designer, naturalist and deep thinker who lives on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens. I can’t even remember when I saw her blog first, via a friend’s recommendation, and her jewellery is just beautiful.
Emma’s book, Making Winter is a beautiful piece of art, an 8 inch square book of help for those who find Winter a struggle. Emma suffers from SAD, so the short days and cold weather of winter can leave her feeling less than bright. I love this description of what she wants to do:
Most years, as summer ends, I wish I were a grizzly bear and could eat all the cake and the sandwiches in the picnic baskets of Yellowstone National Park, build up a pleasing layer of blubber, dig a large but snug hole and go to sleep until the warmer weather draws me out. However, as a human being, it might be better to devise more sociable ways of embracing the colder months.
Emma noticed, when she started her online creative diary in 2008, that she felt better on the days when she had either made something or baked something, and that became her way to get through the season. The handling of colourful threads, yarns and material can replace, to an extent, the colours of summer and give our brains a lift. I think humans have always known this, which is why in agricultural society the winter months are the time for crafting, whittling, sewing or spinning.
Making Winter aims to give you a tool kit to help you get through the winter and, although it may be called a craft book in some classifications, it’s so much more than a craft book. Emma writes small essays between each section, has a heavy focus on nature and the effect it has on her, and has so many different ideas of things to do that there is bound to me something that somebody likes even if they are not a walker/crochet fan/baker.
I like the eclectic nature of the crafting. From a crochet snood to silver clay pendants, via keeping a nature diary and through baking blondies and making flavoured gin, I find myself nodding at so many of the ideas, and earmarking my crafting budget to allow me to have a go. I’m particularly struck by the instructions for making silver clay jewellery which I always thought was Very Complicated and needed a lot of money. I’m now desperate to have a go, and saving pins to my Hibernate board on Pinterest. Thank God that Valentine’s Day gives me an excuse to ask for another gift soon: I have my eye on a new pair of earrings and I want to make them myself.
The book is divided into six sections: Nature as Nurture, Croodle, High Days and Celebrations, The Greyest Days, Looking Ahead to Spring and #makingwinter. Each has a variety of activities, including a cake or treat in each section, and a crochet project. These aren’t difficult, or big, but should be easily doable in a day or two. Each project is beautifully illustrated with a photograph (Emma’s photos are always lovely: her Instagram feed is a beauty) or illustration in pen. In shades of greys, pinks, blues and greens, the whole book is aesthetically beautiful in a clean, natural way.
You can see one of the projects from the book that I started, in a way, to try out the pattern. This is the Pantile Shawl, but only in a sample form. I wanted to check that the pattern was as easy and repetitive as Emma promised. It is, perfect meditative crochet for an evening drinking tea with friends or even for a weekend away when any pattern more complicated gets lost in the travelling.
Emma has used the word ‘Croodle’ to introduce one chapter: she says it’s the closest British word to Hygge and means nestling together in a coop, in the manner of chickens or piglets. As Emma says, many cultures have a word to indicate cosiness, togetherness and wellbeing, each with their own twist on it. I quite like the idea that the British have an old word that we could resurrect and use for being in a bunch during the cold season. How to Croodle The British Way…. what do you think?
I also love the #makingwinter hashtag on Instagram. Emma says “I was keen to create a soothing, uplifting gallery to which anyone could contribute and which would be a source of online creative solace and inspiration to visit on days when winter’s gloom may creep in”. It is beautiful, and really does form an ‘online retreat’ on a cold, wet day (like today: that’s why my photos are so bright. There is no natural daylight today. Even the men digging the pavement outside my window keep huddling next to it to escape the rain). I think Emma is happy for readers of her book and other crafters to use the hastag: I’ve definitely set my instagram to follow it, and I’m loving the feed.
So… final thoughts… is Making Winter worth it?
Of course it is: I don’t recommend books if I don’t actually like them, and this book is a beauty. You should find something that inspires you in it. I love the variety of crafts, the history behind it, and the aesthetic of the book. Thank you, Emma, for such a little treasure of a book.
Feeling Inspired? If you’d like to join in, why not draw up a few ideas for your own hibernation and share them on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtags #makingwinter and #hibernate2018. You can find me on Facebook as How to Hygge The British Way, although truthfully you’ll get a better reaction and enjoy being a member of The Hygge Nook more… it really is my happy place on Social Media, and I love how members post and share. It’s like a coffee break with a world of friends. On Instagram, I’m britishhyggejem. I tend to post my quotes there, and a few pictures of everyday life. Or leave a comment below. I love hearing what others are doing, especially when the weather is grey and hygge comes into its own.
The Advertising Bit:
If you buy through any of the Amazon links on this page I get a couple of pence per copy. That’s used to buy books like Making Winter so that I can review them and share my thoughts. I think I buy about 3 books for every one I choose to review, so that’s a lot of books for one woman to fund. If you’d like to help, I have a link at paypal.me/HyggeJem where you can click through and leave even just a couple of pounds or dollars. I’ve chosen not to monetise my blog, because I will only ever review or recommend products that I use and know are good. It also means you don’t get the big sidebars or pop ups, which I hate having to get through to find the meat of a blog.
I also have to advertise my own books: 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way is available in Paperback and Kindle version and so is How to Hygge Your Summer, again in Paperback and Kindle form, from Amazon.