more neeps . . . more beer


In a mysterious repeat of last week’s missives, today we have more neeps . . and more beer. If I am now inhabiting a turnip-and-beer filled time warp, there are probably worse places to be.

Here you see my entirely non-literal rendition of the turnip tops


and here, how the turnip roots feed down into the soil . . I mean, ribbing.


I am absolutely loving the Jamieson & Smith 2 ply. The colours are so rich and saturated – but subtle too. I spent a very long time admiring their shade card and selecting colours — my favourite here being the lovely mutating golden green (shade fc12) which works really well with the more solid green of shade 118. And look at its feathery soft halo! Hurrah for Shetland!

As with the dollheid, I found myself interested in the effects of a decreasing repeat – that is, in the way the several segments of the crown resolve themselves into circles. With the stems, section divisions, and decreases forming solid lines, the crown of the tam has a simple, formal element to it, which to me is reminiscent of the early styles of 2-colour Scotch bonnet that one often sees in museum collections (I’ll find a photograph at some point to show you). I also enjoyed playing the four colours against each other to create different neepy effects, and particularly like the way the purple shade (fc56) is quietened by the grey (27).

Here in another rather dimly lit shot (taken late yesterday evening after greenhouse watering), is the neep in situ on its allotment, surrounded by other neeps.


The pattern (which I am now working on), will of course be called neepheid. (I have ravelled the project here, and hope to have things ready to go in a couple of weeks time).

Now, in our house, swede is a favoured synonym for head (“look at your big swede” “your giant swede won’t fit through that door” &c &c), and I did wonder about the wisdom of a near-tautological name…but I like neepheid, so neepheid it is.


We are all familiar with the associations of heads with vegetables–we’ve all seen Arcimboldo’s fabulous creations. But turnips seem to be particularly linked to daftness or eccentricity, and this interests me. Do the roots (ahem) of this association this lie in the enthusiasm that surrounded the the four crop rotation system in the eighteenth century? I was thinking about some of the ways that William Cobbett was satirised, and of Pope’s account of Lord “Turnip” Townsend . . . and then I recalled a passage in Mark Twain’s Roughing It about the unfortunate affliction of Mrs Beazley’s son, William:

“Turnips were the dream of her child’s young ambition. While other youths were frittering away in frivolous amusements the precious years of budding vigor which God had given them for useful preparation, this boy was patiently enriching his mind with information concerning turnips. The sentiment which he felt toward the turnip was akin to adoration. He could not think of the turnip without emotion; he could not speak of it calmly; he could not contemplate it without exaltation. He could not eat it without shedding tears. All the poetry in his sensitive nature was in sympathy with the gracious vegetable. With the earliest pipe of dawn he sought his patch, and when the curtaining night drove him from it he shut himself up with his books and garnered statistics till sleep overcame him. On rainy days he sat and talked hours together with his mother about turnips. When company came, he made it his loving duty to put aside everything else and converse with them all the day long of his great joy in the turnip. . .”

The comedic nature of the turnip interests me here. And a similar kind of comedy operates to slightly different effect in the character of Uncle Monty in Withnail and I . I am mulling over various thoughts about this, but in all the examples I can think of, vegetable obsessions seem to be a symptomatic of a particularly masculine eccentricity*. But I am a woman, and am proud to declare myself a turnip obsessive. I have much sympathy with William Beazley’s view of the “gracious vegetable”. What’s not to like? You can eat both the roots and tops, they are easy to grow, and they are a tasty crop pretty much all year round! I love turnips in all their neepiness, and shall sport my neepheid with pride!

Ah yes, beer: I was going to talk about beer. Tom has been doing more brewing, and has also written up a recipe for you. We’ll save that for the next post.

*I would be very interested to hear of women turnip obsessives, in fact or fiction, if any spring to your mind.