Friday, April 17, 2015

Merrily A-longs. . .

Lots of KAL/CAL activity on the go these days.  The Rowan crochet-a-long designed by Lisa Richardson is proving to be lots of fun and I'm really gaining crochet confidence as I learn a new stitch with each hexigon.  Here is Hexi #2 which had the tr2tog stitch that took me ages to get my head around but I finally cracked it.

And I've just finished Hexi #3 with its long triple trebles on the second round, and crossed trebles in the fourth round.

I'm just using stash 4ply but hoping that all the colours will eventually go together. I'll be making either the cushion or the scarf.

I went stash diving to see if I had enough colours to complete the Lily Pond Blanket CAL designed by Jane Crowfoot but I really don't have the right tones of greens and blues.  Still, I'm going to download each section and do a swatch for any stitch that is new to me.  Maybe they will all go together to form a cushion, we'll see.  It'll be good practice at any rate.  This is the wave stitch and it looks as if I've also inadvertently learned how to decrease stitches as well.  Bit of an oblong mess, but it was fun to do. 

Back to knitting and I've joined the Hap-a-long hosted by Knit British.  I've chosen to knit the Hap Cardigan by Emily K. Williams but inspired by the many, many gorgeous projects in the Knit British ravelry group, I may have to cast on a proper hap shawl as well. 

I'm using Blacker alpaca 4ply for the main colour.  You knit the back and sleeve caps first and then start on the striped fan pattern.  I have no idea of which colours I'll be doing but I have lots of my mini-skeins to pick from. I'm leaning towards a blue palette. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Off the Needles: Ishneich. . .

Here's my second celtic cable shawl from Lucy Hague's book.  This is Ishneich, knitted out of two skeins of Madeline Tosh fingering that were in my stash.  I especially love the deep pink variegated colourway which is aptly named Wilted Rose. 

This was quite a fun shawl to knit.  The first bit is quick and easy stripes.  I knitted most of it in front of the telly catching up on Poldark episodes while nursing a cold. Then comes the fun cable part which has become second nature after doing of these shawls.  Between the cables and the lace edging are two rows of lateral braid.  You can't see it very clearly in these photos and I forgot to take a close-up but it was great to learn a new techniques and it's a nice way to separate two parts of a shawl.  I love learning something new with every project.

The colours feel more attuned to crisp fall or winter weather, so I'll probably put this away for a few months; I'm in the mood to knit and wear linen/cotton/hemp at the moment.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dazzle Over the Mersey. . .

Taking the ferry over the Mersey is a must when you visit Liverpool and this ritual has just become a bit more colourful!

As part of the WWI centenary, the Mersey ferry Snowdrop has been painted to look like the dazzle ships of the First World War, camouflaged in these crazy, colourful patterns to trick German submarines when they tried to pinpoint the the ship's speed, direction and exact location.

The ferry was painted by Sir Peter Blake, appropriately enough the artist behind this iconic work:

There's also another dazzle ship in dry dock, commissioned by Tate Liverpool and designed by Carlos Cruz-Diez.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My First Weaving Project. . .

Last weekend was the perfect time to set up the Rigid Heddle Loom I bought at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.  With instruction booklet in one hand and online tutorials on the computer beside me, I set to work putting all the pieces together and figuring out how to thread it. It took me two hours, but mostly because I was a bit meticulous about getting it right (plus my balls of yarn kept rolling under the bed).

Anyways, a short time later and I was weaving!

I absolutely love it and what a great way to use up stash yarn. For the warp, I alternated between two shades of undyed Blue-Faced Leicester DK from West York Spinners (the lighter shade was left over from my Sous Sous).  For the weft, I used some of their Signature 4ply in their Country Birds series (Bullfinch). I really love the pattern that it made.   As you can see, I still need lots of practice as the weave goes wonky at times with tension changes and my ends aren't very neat.

Despite using wool, the finished project felt more like cotton or linen - light and compact in the hand. I experimented with a portion using the DK as the weft and while it does produce a denser fabric, I was still quite happy with how the 4ply weft worked on the DK warp.  I'm excited about the possibilities of incorporating lots of variegated yarns in future projects, especially those with colours that attracted me in the skein, but just didn't work when knitted up.

I'm also loving this book by Jane Patrick which is full of pattern ideas specifically aimed at the type of loom that I have.  The mind boggles at the sheer number of different types of fabric I can create. It's all very, very exciting.

I turned my swatch of weaving into a little bag, lining it with some tweed material I bought at a quilting show and adding two snaps as I hate it when yarn gets caught in zippers.

It's just big enough to contain my latest celtic cable knitting project - the Ishneich shawl by Lucy Hague.

Nearly finished now. . .

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Muted But Pretty Spring Walk . .

Easter Sunday started out quite grey but I was itching to get out for a walk, so I grabbed my camera, determined to find some spring colour, and did one of my favourite walks into town via Wavertree, Greenbank and Sefton parks, down Lark Lane, through the Festival Gardens and onto the Otterspool path along the Mersey following it right to the Albert Docks. 

The sun may not have been out, but the flowers were, and the city was so quiet. It was very meditative; I do all my best thinking while walking. 

The blossoms and spring leaves were out too; just very pretty pale colours against the blank canvas of the sky.

When I got down to the Mersey, the tide was very far out and the water just merged with the sky. You couldn't see Wales at all.   So peaceful. . .

When I got to the Albert Docks, the water was so still, the reflections were fabulous.

I'm still seeing cables everywhere. . .

But I really do love the mirror imaging - it looks just like a smudged painting. 

Especially if you turn it upside down.

Tate Liverpool is right at the Albert Docks and I always like to pop into their gift shop and take a look at their latest art books.  They also carry magazines, and I was delighted to find the latest copy of Uppercase, a really cool, interesting, gorgeous Canadian magazine devoted to design.  The focus of Issue #24 was appropriately enough all about weaving, quilting and textiles!  The perfect end to my walk and entirely in theme with my weekend's projects of which more anon. 

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rowan Crochet-A-Long. . .

All my current knitting projects are proving either too big to lug around in my bag, or too complicated to focus on during tea breaks, so I've welcomed the new Rowan crochet-a-long which started last week.  Designed by Lisa Richardson,  there will be seven mystery motifs and crocheters can choose between a baby blanket, cushion cover, shawl or scarf, depending on the number of each that they make.  I'm leaning towards the cushion cover or scarf myself, but what I'm really hoping is to improve my crochet skills beyond the granny square, as this project is suitable for beginners with each week teaching something new.  Perfect!

Here are my week one hexigons.  I'm just using some stash 4ply and two colours for now as my variegated Jillybeans yarn brings in enough hue variety. 

I'd love to be able to get good enough to do a crocheted garment, specifically one out of Marie Wallin's new Filigree book which combines knitting and crochet in some stunning ways.  I'm in love with Anemone:

And Buttercup:

But I'd love to create all of the pieces in the book.

Or also participate in this wonderful CAL which kicks off on April 7th. The finished project is the Lily Pond Blanket, designed by crochet guru Jane Crowfoot.  How beautiful is this?

One day, one day. . .

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Very Romantic Walk: Bolton Abbey to Simon's Seat. . .

We were lucky with the weather on last Sunday's walk. All week it had threatened gales and heavy showers, but in the end we only had a sprinkling of about twenty minutes of rain.  I didn't mind the grey at all; it was a splendid backdrop for a rather romantic, moody walk, showcasing all I love about the Yorkshire countryside.

We started on the extensive grounds of Bolton Abbey, where the Priory was first founded in 1154. These ruins are what is left after Henry VIII began his destruction of the monasteries in 1540. 

It's a great place to spend the day especially for families. There are tons of well laid out paths running beside the River Wharfe suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs, and lots of cafes and tea shops.  And an antiquarian bookshop that I would have loved to explore, but alas, we were there to walk, so off into the lovely countryside we went.

We shortly entered what is known as the Valley of Desolation, so called because of a terrible storm in 1826 that destroyed many of the oaks in the area.  There has since been lots of replanting.

Gorgeous rapids and waterfalls soon appeared, courtesy of how the Ice Age carved out this landscape.

And then it was straight out onto the moorland.  I wish I could better convey how wonderful the colours were against the browny-purple of the heather and gorse and those grey skies.  Just look at this deep green.

And muted purples and rusts.

And look at this shock of orange moss!  I want to find yarns in all these colours and knit up a shawl.

Ah, and what is that in the distance, looming out of the mist?  Is it a castle?

Unfortunately no, just a large rock outcropping known as Simon's Seat, but possibly named after Simon Druid, a Celtic magician.  This was the high point of our walk and we ate our lunch amid the stones.

On the other side you get great views of the surrounding fields.

If we met any magical princes on our walk, they were definitely taking the form of birds. Here you can see how wonderfully the grouse blend into their surroundings.

Here was our descent, back down towards the banks of the River Wharfe.

The lambs were out in the fields, along with a beautiful rogue pheasant.

Back down by the river, we followed the lovely Dales Way back to Bolton Abbey.

Gorgeous bridges cross the river.

And so another grand walk comes to a happy ending.