Monday, 1 September 2014

Brambles - Part Two

I love blackberries! The taste, the smell, the colour, I love everything about them. They are my favourite fruit, and for me they represent this wonderful time of year when late summer blends into early autumn. Their taste is almost a fragrance, and when they are cooked that perfume wafts itself around the whole house, evoking mellow days, woodland walks and hedgerow harvests. They remind me of childhood blackberry-picking, braving the thorns and spiders' webs to reach the largest fruit which always seem to be just that little bit too high and out of reach.
These are wild ones, growing on Dartmoor a couple of weeks ago. They are small and delicious, and very prickly. You definitely need to wear long sleeves when gathering them.

They look so pretty growing over this granite stone wall.

I'm always very inspired by blackberries to make things. A while ago I made this version of Lucy's crocheted bag in bramble coloured cotton yarn - lots of purple, crimson, mauve and green. I wanted to reflect the colours of the unripe berries as well as the ripe ones, and love the richness of the tones.

I use it every September, and although it's hard to see in this photo, I lined it with a purple polka dot cotton.

I also made a little coaster from some lovely hand knit cotton in these colours.

Last year I made this cotton granny square cushion cover from some very soft cotton yarn, inspired by the rich colours of cooked blackberries mixed with cream, after making a blackberry crumble. 

It sits on this Ikea chair which I decided to paint in a chalky lilac at the same time of year. I adore those soft, warm colours together which take me instantly back to early autumn days.

These are our cultivated garden blackberries, and they are huge in comparison with their wild cousins.

It's nice to pop out to the garden after work to pick them and either freeze them or put them in the fridge for topping the next day's cereal.

Folklore has it that blackberries must be picked before Old Michaelmas Day on the 10th October, and not after because the devil was kicked out of heaven on this day and fell into a bramble bush, cursing it and spitting on it. There is logic behind this, as after this date the fruit can be high in tannins and taste bitter, and the damper weather can mean that the fruit is more likely to become mouldy.

I used these to make ice cream, and the colour turned out to be almost identical to the damson ice cream I made last week. It had a lovely, subtle flavour.

I also like to see blackberries around the house. My daughters bought me a lovely Susie Watson mug with a blackberry design for my birthday a while ago. It's the one I use when I'm having a leisurely weekend breakfast, and I really like its simplicity.

I also love the brambles which are printed onto this little plate. It's part of a set of Brambly Hedge plates given to me by my mum, as she and I are both fans of the books with their gorgeous pictures and sweet stories. The fruit and leaves are painted in great detail, capturing the forms and colours beautifully.

The deep, rich, autumnal colours inspired me to make a necklace with these ceramic beads. They so remind me of shiny berries 'fat with blue-red juices' as Sylvia Plath described them in her poem 'Blackberrying'.

Well, that's the end of my bramble post, and I haven't even mentioned apple and blackberry pies or bramble jam! Well, there's still time for some more blackberry cooking before the season is over. Think I'll have to wander down the lanes again with my basket for some more.

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