Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Old Man From Afar: Another Walk Around Coniston. . .

This is what perfect winter walking weather looks like.  It may have been -3 degrees when we set out around 9am, but the wind was perfectly still, allowing the sunshine to warm all exposed skin.  Bliss!

The last time we came to Coniston, we tackled the famous Old Man which looms above the town.  You can follow that walk here.  But the Lake District offers gorgeous views from all heights and this recce that we did for a future walk with our rambling group, demonstrates how one doesn't need to go to the highest point for the maximum views.  And let's face it, the Old Man looks pretty picturesque from a distance, especially covered in snow. 

Starting from the town, we briefly walked away from the Old Man, through bits of woodland and across fields still encrusted with the morning's frost.

This brought us out to the head of Coniston Water, also looking quite magical in the still, morning air.

The Herdys were enjoying the sunshine too.

From the other side of the lake the Old Man still majestically dominates the landscape.

Our path up was on one of many that snake through Grizedale Forest where we encountered this very odd sign.  I still don't really know what it means or what it may be cautioning against.

The highest point on our walk was Carron Crag and on the way up you encounter various wooden sculptures.

At 1,030 feet it may not be the highest peak in the region, but just look at the 360 views you get, not only of the Old Man and its surrounding crags. . . 

. . . but also this great view of the ranges near Ambleside.  I hope I'm correct; I think it may be the Fairfield Horseshoe on the far left with the Kentmere Horseshoe also visible further along. 

I could have spent hours up on the top of Carron, basking in the sunshine and fresh air.  However, there was an important football game on at 5pm (they all seem to be important to the Liverpud), and we had to finish the recce, so reluctantly we started heading down through more deep and magical forest. . .

. . . finishing on gentle country lanes - I love this type of walking path.

At every clearing, the Old Man reasserted itself, looking particularly lovely in the lake's reflection,

A truly super winter walk!  I can't wait to do it again with our group.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

First Finished Sweater of the Year. . .

Hooray - I'm on the board with my first finished sweater of the year (only 11 more to go).  This took exactly one week to complete and I really love the look and fit of it.  Hooray for bulky yarn!

The pattern is the Wendy Sweater by Wendy Barnard and I made a few modifications, shortening the sleeves and omitting the waist decreases.  The yarn is Rowan's Big Wool Colour in the Jamboree colourway with plain black Big Wool for the trim.  I'd definitely use this pattern again for a bulky jumper in one solid colour, lengthening both the sleeves and the body.  I liked the fact that it was top-down and knit in the round so it was easy to try it on as I knit it. 

A few words about the yarn:  I absolutely fell in love with this colourway when I saw it in the shop and I knew I wanted to create a garment with it.  Finding a suitable pattern was a bit tricky though.   I would suggest that you stick to stockinette and knit on slightly smaller needles than are called for, to keep the fabric tight so it looks a bit less bulky.  I had originally started a pattern that involved garter stitch across the neck and shoulder area and it looked awful.  Garter stitch really doesn't show this yarn's colours and textures to their best advantage.  Stockinette definitely does.

The nubs do make it a bit difficult to frog as they get caught up in various other strands.  Similarly you need a bit of muscle to weave in the ends (and a large tapestry needle).

I'm really thrilled with the results though and I think it's a fun top that can work just as well dressed up with a black skirt as over a pair of jeans.  And I really love the plain Rowan Big Wool - would definitely like to knit more chunky jumpers with this yarn.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Progress. . .

Ripped back the second bit of Byatt and restarted with a stronger contrast colour so that slip-stitching showed up better.

And I'm maybe a third of the way through a potential jumper with my Rowan Big Wool Colour.  This pattern is the Wendy Sweater by Wendy Bernard, a very simple top-down jumper that I'm hoping will be my go-to pattern for chunky wool.  I'm knitting it on 8mm needles so the fabric is quite tight, yet there's still a bit of give in the stockinette.  The fit seems okay so far.  Now I just need to decide if I do the ribbing at the bottom and around the neck in black or gray.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

FO February?. . .

I am supposed to be concentrating on knitting sweaters this year but I have so many other projects still to finish. I'm determined that this month will be Finished Object February. 

Here is the first of a pair of mittens that was supposed to be my mum's xmas present.  Maybe this year.  I'd settle for getting one done by the end of the month. 

Have I completed one sweater for my 12 sweaters in 12 months project yet?  Nope.  Have I started two shawls though?  Oh yes.  Here is how my Earth and Sky is looking.

And I'm now on the second part of Byatt.  I really want to finish this by the Edinburgh Yarn Festival in mid-March.

I have been working on one sweater.  I've finished the back of Sous Sous and am just up to the neck division on the front.  It's slow going though.

And this is all that is left of the TenderI frogged it as it was just too bulky looking with all the extra nupps in the Rowan Big Wool Colour.  I've actually cast on for a better pattern but it's too soon to tell whether it will look any better.

Five projects I'm aching to get done so I can cast on for another sweater or start finishing the three cardigans that I've got stowed away in bags with just the sleeves and seaming to finish.  Three weeks to go - can I get any of these done?

Monday, February 2, 2015

First Signs of Spring. . .

When it comes to the preposterous headlines in the daily tabloids, it's always the ones about the weather that make me laugh the most.  If the temperature drops to -15 degrees on the top of a mountain in Scotland, you can bet that next morning there will be a screaming headline about deadly arctic blasts or frigid windchill.  It may well be freezing high on the hills, and we have had a dusting of snow in the last week, and yes, we have been scraping frost off the car most mornings, but let's face it, in most of the UK, this is what winter currently looks like (with apologies to the folks back in Canada).

I took these photos yesterday - it was a brisk 4 degrees but our backyard camellia bush is getting ready to explode in pink.

And the daffodils are bravely pushing out in Calderstones Park.

And Sponge is back, prowling the neighbourhood looking for the perfect sunshine soaked spot to have an afternoon nap.

I'm delighting in blue skies and the colour green right now, so when I saw this new shawl pattern by Karie Westermann, I immediately purchased it and dug out my skein of Rowan Fine Art 4ply.  It's full of peacock colours and will go really nicely with a skein of deep teal Titus in the colourway Eccup.  And the pattern?  It's called Byatt and is absolutely gorgeous, inspired not only by the author but this particular novel, which is quite simply my favourite novel of the 21st century so far.  How could I not immediately cast on?

I'm digging out some copper beads to maybe add to the lace section at the end.  In the meantime, the first part - which is all garter stitch - is nearly done!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Colour Exploration Ends. . . Finally!. . .

I wrote previously about the trouble I was having choosing colours for this darn pattern.  And then shortly afterwards, I scrapped yet another version and cast on again with a whole new palette.  And finally finished  my Exploration Station.

I was helped in my indecision by the fabulous finished shawls that I saw on Ravelry.  In the end, I went back to fingering weight as the shawl is big enough to wrap around the shoulders nicely.  And I decided to add a fifth colour and do a contrasting colour bind-off. Nothing like 1700 other projects to inspire and motivate you.

All the yarn is British.  The white, oatmeal and green come from Blacker Yarns; the dark grey is Titus in the coal colourway, and the orange is a lovely hand-dyed skein of Jillybeans.

I absolutely love it, whether as a shawl or bundled up around my neck. The colours seem to go really nicely together and once I made a decision, the knitting was interesting and fun to do.  I think I've finally cracked the brioche stitch.

I love these KALs - so much so, that I've decided to complete the set, so I've just cast on for Stephen's first mystery KAL which I never participated in at the time.  The pattern is Earth & Sky and it will allow me to practice my intarsia.  I'm using some Madeline Tosh, some natural dyed purple British wool which I picked up at a show last year, and some Noro Taiyo sock in shades of browns and greens.  I'm only four years late on this one, but it's simple telly knitting, so should knit up quickly.  As long as I stay happy with the colours!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Walk Up Pendle Hill. . .

This is the infamous Pendle Hill in Lancashire, full of witchcraft lore and history, although the only thing brewing on the day of this walk was some foul, windy weather.  I've passed Pendle's distinctive shape so many times on the motorway and have always wanted to climb it, so when it came up on the walking group's schedule, I was definitely going - no matter the forecast!

We started from the tiny village of Downham and were soon climbing the slopes.  The first bit is the steepest, after that the path evens out and it's quite a quick ascent. . .

. . . at least to the false top.  Still a bit to go. . .

Despite 40 mph winds, it's not the type of hill that one worries about being blown over (although people often get lost if the mist comes down).  The top is flat and full of moorland.  The downside of course is that you are completely exposed to the elements.  The windchill and stinging, freezing rain on my face that day was something I hadn't experienced since leaving Canada.  Ooh, it was strong!

Thank god for a shelter in the middle of nowhere, where we sat for a soggy lunch despite the rain and the wind that still attacked us through the open top.

But this is what British walkers love; huddled up in the cold, with muddy boots and overtrousers, enjoying a cuppa.

After lunch, we set across the moorland, beautiful and bleak in its own way.  I kept thinking how lovely this walk would be on a sunny summer's day.

There were still some views to see through the haze.

And then the surprise descent was through an absolutely lovely and colourful valley.

This led to the Ogden Reservoir.

And some interesting and unexpected architecture to allow the water to flow down.

From there, it was a pleasant walk to the little village of Barley, along bits of the Pendle Way, with these signs the only witch we encountered.  This is definitely a walk I'll be repeating when the weather turns fair.