Thursday, 20 December 2012

One Gift Down. . .

I sent this off a bit early to Canada to make sure it arrived in time.  This shawl is for a friend who is going on a month long sabbatical in January to India.  The yarn is Noro Silk Garden and the colours reminded me of tumeric and cinnamon with a bit of sari thrown in.  The pattern is the Zora Shawl by Mindy Wilkes which I found in the 2012 Accessories edition of Knitscene Magazine.  I really like the edging of the shawl and it was a fun pattern to knit.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

The Amazing Kate Davies Does it Again. . .

There was a nice thump on the floor when the post arrived today and I knew exactly what it was.  I have been a huge fan of the very talented Kate Davies for a number of years now and when she announced her first knitting book was published, I immediately ordered one up, along with hundreds of knitters around the world. And it is gorgeous - the patterns, the photography, the layout, I just love it.

Not only am I itching to knit several of the patterns, I know this is going to be a fascinating book to actually read.  Inspired by the landscape of the Shetland Islands, each section is prefaced by an essay exploring one aspect of the history and geography that inspired the designs.  The first thing I want to make is her puffin sweater (puffins are my favourite birds).

I also love her Stevenson sweater inspired by the islands' lighthouses.

The reading will commence tonight; the knitting will have to wait until the new year (and I still have her Deco sweater to finish up).

Still, I did get one xmas gift off the needles today.  I finished a Tuesday Night Cowl designed by Susan Lawrence for my sister-in-law.  I've knit this before and it's a wonderful and quite quick pattern. The cowl stays firmly around the neck and is very cosy on cold days. You can also easily bring it up to cover your face if it's windy.  When I knit mine, I used a wool that had a lot of alpaca in it and it had quite a halo, although it certainly was soft.  For this one, I used Rowan's British Sheep Breeds Chunky in the Bluefaced Leicester and I think the cables are more defined.  I also really like the undyed colour.  I may have to knit another for myself.

Now I'm attempting a hat (not my forte at all - I always get the sizing wrong).   We'll see how it goes;  I'm usually rubbish at judging the size when it's on the dpns.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Oh, Those Happy Feet. . .

When I lived in Toronto, I occasionally watched Dancing With the Stars (it's on my bucket list to learn to tango one day).  Now in the UK, I'm hooked on its counterpart, Strictly Come Dancing which, despite rarely knowing who the celebrities are, I think I prefer to the U.S. show.  Things may have changed in the latter, but I don't remember the celebrities ever performing a Charleston.  Last Saturday, there was this delightful fusion routine of Charleston and Quickstep performed by Dani Harmer and Vincent Simone. I just loved everything about it - the choreography, the music, the costumes, the facial expressions.  It looks like such fun - I so totally want to do this.  If you haven't seen this, it'll put a smile on your face and a tap in your toes.  Enjoy!

Weekend Tripping: The Lake District. . .

There's snow up in those hills, but it was still a lovely crisp weekend for walking in the Lake District.  The Liverpud and I drove up Friday night to visit friends in Kendal and on Saturday, we drove to Ambleside, parked the car, pulled on the hiking boots and did a favourite circuit leading up to Wansfell Pike.

Along the way you get great views of Lake Windermere looking very still and magical in the early afternoon light.  And the sheep didn't seem to mind the cold.

Our walk takes us through the little village of Troutbeck (with a quick stop for some chocolate and jelly babies) and then it's a left turn into Nanny Lane and a very steep climb up to Wansfell Pike (a little over 1500 feet).  Here we are about half way up.  We had to be a bit careful as the path was very icy in spots.

Unfortunately the top was shrouded in mist but normally you get a terrific view of Ambleside and the surrounding hills.  It cleared a bit once we began our descent.

Sunday was clear and sunny and we went on a brisk country walk in the hills above Kendal.

The route took us along this path towards the Kendal Golf Course.

And the most spectacular views awaited us. Can you imagine playing golf with this type of background?

These photos don't do the scene justice - you can see huge stretches of the fell ranges all around you. I absolutely love this part of England.  Yes, the Rockies are higher and more majestic, but you mostly have to see it all from a car or the train.  The Lake District is just as beautiful, but more humanly scaled.   With a little effort you feel as if you've really earned the views and it doesn't take too long to get to them.  Also there are no bears!

Our walk ended in the lovely town of Kendal which has a busy and very pretty pedestrian high street all decorated for Christmas. We got lattes and did a bit of shopping.  Alas, Williams Wools was shut but I'll definitely try and get there on my next visit.

 I did see a lot of very pretty yarn bombing around town though.

All in all, a very relaxing weekend and it was nice to get away from the madness of Christmas shopping.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

So Many UFOs. . .

I've been fairly busy these last few weeks, but I'll always find time for knitting.  The trouble is, I just can't seem to finish anything! My Unfinished Objects are getting out of control but alas, it doesn't stop me from casting on for something new.

My latest obsession has been knitting cushion covers using different patterns and textures.  I'm quite pleased with these two (although sewing them up into actual cushions has been put on hold until after the holidays).  The plan is to pile them up in heaps on the day bed in the spare bedroom.

I've also been captivated and inspired by a new book called Pop Knitting by Britt-Marie Christoffersson which contains some really imaginative, colourful and wacky techniques.

Who knew that knitting holes could be so much fun?

The above is meant to be a long, horizontal cushion but it's knitting up so large that I think I may have to felt it. The idea is to have some bold and interesting fabric from my quilting stash showing through the holes and then I'll back all of my knitted cushion fronts with various quilted fat quarters. 

But the Christmas gift knitting has to come first.  I'm loving this scarf pattern called Leftie by Martina Behm.  It's a fresh and youthful take on a simple garter stitch scarf and it's been fun choosing complimentary colours.  You can also easily make it any size you like.  The pattern calls for fingering yarn, but crazy me has decided to do it in lace weight.  I like the lightness of it and I've picked colours that I think could work well for use in both the winter and summer.  Still, it is taking FOREVER.  And I'm not looking forward to weaving in all the ends.  Fingers crossed that I at least get this done before the 25th. (I'm also dying to make one for myself).

Monday, 3 December 2012

A Walk in the Park. . .

One of the things I really love about living in the U.K. is how green it always is, no matter what the season.  I often walk through this park that the locals call "The Mystery" (I have no idea why).  Look at how green the grass still is, even in late autumn.  Certainly easy on the eyes, especially on a crisp, sunny day.

 I go for a walk in this park when I'm in the mood for gazing upwards. There's just something about the proportion of the surrounding buildings to the sky and clouds that makes one feel very small, but not in a bad way.  Rather, it's quite exhilarating to be among so much open space and sky in the middle of a city.  I just love it.

Liverpool is filled with many parks, all different and beautiful in their own way and so beneficial to urban living.  On my list of future places to explore is Birkenhead Park located across the Mersey on the Wirral.  This is the park that influenced Frederick Law Olmstead, the landscape architect behind New York's famous Central Park.  He visited Birkenhead in 1850.