Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Patterdale and Place Fell. . .

I'm very proud of the Liverpud.  Last Sunday he led his first walk for our rambling group and it was a cracker (fortunately the weather co-operated).  This can occasionally be a tough crowd to please; they are all lovely people, but so many of them have walked the same paths for years - sometimes even decades - that it can be challenging to offer something a little different.  Normally when the group goes to the Patterdale/Glenridding area, the leaders plan a walk on the northwest side of Ullswater as there are many famous and popular peaks such as Helvellyn.  But the Liverpud chose to walk on the other side of the lake, which is dominated by the imposing Place Fell.  Yes,  that's it in front of us; we started climbing almost immediately.

The views are worth it though.  This is looking backwards at Brothers Water and the surrounding fells.

The light was really eerie and mysterious when we stopped at the top for lunch (unfortunately a portent of rain, fortunately only lasting about twenty minutes).

These are probably more puddles than tarns, but I do love coming unexpectedly upon water at the top of mountains.

Looking down on the other side, you can see the top end of Ullswater, the second largest lake in the Lake District.

The descent is relatively smooth and easy under the feet. We went briefly up High Dodd but it was very misty and the views weren't great.  So we then skirted around it, making our way towards the lake.

 The last four miles follows a very undulating path with great view of Ullswater. If the weather had been clearer, I would have taken more photos, but on a good day, you'd see sail boats and canoes/kayaks. There are some tiny picturesque islands in the lake too. Wainwright apparently called this path one of the best walks in Lakeland and while it's not quite my favourite, the group seemed to enjoy it. 

Finally, what would a spring walk in England be without at least one cute lamb sighting? 

The walk seemed to tick all the boxes for just the right amount of height, mileage, views and effort, with plenty of time left for the pub.  It certainly made the recce - done in pouring rain - all worth it. The Liverpud has a few more walks to lead in the next few months and I'm very happy because it gets us up to the Lakes more often.

Friday, 25 April 2014

The First Squares. . .

Since I'm using fingering 4ply instead of worsted weight for this mystery afghan, I've decided to knit eight squares for each design.  Here are my first four (I'll do two squares in each colour combo) and I'm quite pleased with how they've turned out.  As the main background to this blanket, I'm using two different skeins of Jillybeans Knot Another Granny Yarn in the shades Mountain View (on the left) and Hoping For Summer (on the right).  I fell in love with the colours in this yarn when saw them at Woolfest and each skein has ample yardage, so I'm hoping to use a bit in every square - depending on the pattern - or at least make them the dominant background colours.  In choosing the solid colours, I went for one that is high contrast and then one that is more muted, but still makes the texture pop. The yarns are bits of Titus, and 4ply from John Arbon  and Blacker Wools, all great British yarns.  In fact, I may try to make this an all-British blanket if I can.


Kaffe Fassett once said, "If in doubt, add twenty more colours."  I'm channelling my inner Kaffe for this project, something I've wanted to do ever since this day.   Can't wait until Monday for the next clue.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

New Mystery Afghan KAL. . .

 I love participating in mystery knit-a-longs so when Rowan announced a free afghan KAL designed by Martin Storey, I was itching to join in (we'll just ignore the ongoing hexi-puff and mitred square blankets that are also in the works).  There will be eight different square patterns released over the next eight weeks and then some trim. You knit six squares of each clue, ideally in two different colours. The design is meant to showcase Rowan's new Pure Wool Worsted,  a lovely line of wool that comes in some really amazing colours.   However, I'm still committed to just knitting from my stash this year so I can't use the recommended yarn.

This has posed some interesting challenges for me as most of my stash is fingering weight, so I will either end up with a smaller blanket or have to knit a lot more squares.  Digging around in my stash, I came across two skeins of Jillybeans wool that I picked up at Woolfest and really want to use. However, both are variegated (in lovely shades of hazy purples, greens, blues and grays)  and when I tried knitting Week 1's square, the pattern and texture were completely lost.  Undaunted, I found a lovely dark purple that makes those muted colours pop.  So I've done some colourwork instead.  I'm really happy with the result and plan to line the back of the blanket with fabric to hide all the stranding. 

My square measures 5 x 5,  quite a bit smaller than the worsted wool 7.5 x 7.5 squares but I'm going to wait for a few more clues before deciding whether to knit more squares or perhaps to do a larger trim.  There's a great group on ravelry knitting this blanket and it's not too late to join. I'm having fun with this already and what a great stashbuster!  Now off to knit five more squares before the next clue comes. . .

Friday, 18 April 2014

I'll Settle for Settle. . .

Much as I love the Lake District, I'm a Yorkshire lass, born if not bred, so I'm always happy when our rambling group heads east. Last weekend's walk was a circular one from the town of Settle, taking in gorgeous views of the Yorkshire Dales.  And a bit of Yorkshire humour.

There are lots of waterfalls in this area. This is Stainforth Force on the River Ribble where we had an early lunch.

Our walk then took us over the Settle to Carlisle railway line which is a lovely scenic route and one I'd highly recommend.  It's celebrating its 25th anniversary of being saved from the railways cuts in the 1980s.

I haven't been in this area since last summer when we did the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. It was lovely to see two of the peaks in the distance. There's Pen-y-Ghent . . .

. . . and in the other direction is Ingleborough.

A large part of our walk was on moorland with the dales in the distance and tiny, quiet, meandering streams such as this. . .

. . . which suddenly tumble over. . .

. . . and become another picturesque waterfall.  This is Catrigg Force, just outside the village of Stainforth.

The way back to Settle, high up on the moors, takes in some of the limestone outcroppings.

And the beautiful undulating countryside.

There's nothing better underfoot than a soft, grassy path (when it's dry of course).

The sheep love the grass too except when they think the farmer has something better in store (he didn't - he was just returning some naughty sheep who had learned how to jump over stone walls.)

And look how green and lush the springtime landscape is.  Balm for the soul along with lots of fresh, bracing air.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Counting My Sheep. . .

We spent a rainy weekend in the Lake District completing one long recce for an upcoming walk that the Liverpudlian is leading at the end of the month (I was following, trying to make notes in the rain), and enjoying a couple of nice meals and a lovely B & B.  But by Sunday we'd only just dried out our boots and gear and it was just too wet to contemplate another walk.  We read the paper in a cafe and did a little local shopping in Ambleside.  At Fred Holdsworth's Bookshop I couldn't resist buying Counting Sheep: A Celebration of the Pastoral Heritage of Britain by Philip Walling.  It's the perfect bedside book don't you think?  And I loved that the bookseller was knitting a gorgeous purple cabled sock behind the counter.  We had a chat about how Ambleside really needed a good yarn shop.

I counted dozens of pink sheep near Hartsop on our walk  - a whole flock of them dotting the hillsides.  I don't know if their markings had run or if they were dyed for a special purpose but they were certainly a sight to see. 

And they probably unconsciously led to my other lovely purchase - this pink and gray wool felt bag from Urban Country.  I bought it in a new shop called GEAR in Ambleside. Despite its name, it does not sell walking paraphernalia, but is a gift shop full of lovely things. These bags were in their front window and I just couldn't resist.  And it's definitely big enough for all my daily bits and bobs, my lunch, a book and a large knitting project. 

Friday, 4 April 2014

A Motivating Tea Towel. . .

When the amazing Kate Davies posted her latest creation on her blog, I smiled and immediately ordered one.  How fabulous is this tea towel with drawings by Felicity Ford of several of Kate's terrific sweater designs? She's never designed a garment that I haven't wanted to knit and I already have the patterns for several of these - Warriston, Catkin, and Boreal perching at the top of the list. 

And it's motivated me to get my long-languishing Deco out.  I don't know why I stopped; I was nearing the end of a ball of wool and I was reading comments on ravelry about a tricky bit to come and just lost my confidence. It's been packed away since I moved to England but I love the wool ( Blacker's Corriedale Organic which is now discontinued - fingers crossed I have enough) and my knitting mojo has never been stronger. This will be my major April knitting project and I'm determined to get it done.


I love the idea of the tea towel as a visual checklist and instead of hanging up in the kitchen, it's going to be prominently displayed in my spare bedroom (aka the knitting den).  And once I finish each sweater (she writes confidently), I'm going to use some strands of the project wool and fill in the corresponding sweater diagram with some embroidery. Check back in about 40 years to see the completed tea towel.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

A Walk Without a Lake (Almost) . . .

It's rare to go on a walk in the Lake District and not come across, well a lake, or at least a tarn. I had to settle for a river last Sunday as we began our hike from Threlkeld, about fifteen minutes away from Keswick in the northern bit of the National Park.   Quite frankly, I'd have settled for anything so long as it was outdoors - the weather was absolutely gorgeous, a bit hazy, but 14-16 degrees and most importantly dry! 
This is the intimidating range known as Blencathra or Saddleback, but fortunately our route wasn't straight up. Instead we followed a river path off to the right which skirted the steepest part of the mountain and we spent the majority of the day in and around the middle heights behind it.  

Which is not to say we weren't still climbing; we did over 2000 feet in total on this walk. Below, you can see the river we walked beside on the bottom left as we were about half way up Scales Fell.

But diagonal paths are always a bit easier on the legs.

Around the corner and a bit higher up, we came to this flat bit with a great view of  Foule Crag and Sharp Edge, that ridge that dips down from the summit.  You can go up it but it's quite narrow and there's a rocky scramble at the end of it.  Today's weather was probably ideal for the attempt, but we walked through the beautiful valley below it instead.

Getting closer, you can just make out a few dots, i.e. people, doing Sharp Edge.
Lunchtime and this is our view of the valley we've just travelled through. There is nothing better than eating a sandwich with a thermos of tea beside you, awash in the sunshine and fresh air.  Very Famous Five. 

Now we turn and head towards the back of Skiddaw feeling very much like little hobbits in this vast and lonely landscape.

And we turn again for the walk back through a different valley. . .

. . . always remembering to occasionally look backwards to see how far we've come.

And finally at the last stretch, a tiny view of Derwentwater with its surrounding fells looking very much like a smudgy watercolour.  So we got a teeny bit of lake after all.

And a lot more mountain - as far as the eye could see. A super day and a super walk.