Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Ten Miles Around Grassington. . .

Our last ramblers' walk was to the lovely Yorkshire town of Grassington which I definitely would like to explore in more detail. Walking through it, I was constantly distracted by the shop and cafe windows.   Oh, how I'd love to visit during their Dickensian Christmas festivities

Situated right in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, there are plenty of good walks just outside the village with lots of typical Yorkshire dry stone walls on display.

Soon our walk took us on to part of the Dales Way, a long distance walk that I aim to do in full one day.  I loved how the clouds ahead looked like mountains. 

Some people find this type of landscape very bleak but I love it.  The air was very still, fresh and dry and it feels great to breathe it all in and get the lungs and legs working.

In the 19th century there was lots of industry -  limestone quarries and lead mines.  This is a lime kiln built over 150 years ago.

And the limestone is very evident in the surrounding landscape.

The light was fantastic and the trees so very still.

Our way back to Grassington took us down old mining tracks where there are still remnants of buildings and shafts.  Not a place to stray off the main road.

The final bit was a lovely path along the River Wharf.

The days are so short now so our walks are accordingly cut by half an hour to an hour but the upside is that we do get to glimpse some lovely sunsets.  We made it to the pub just before it went completely dark, but alas, after all the shops had closed, including the wool one.  Next time.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Third Time Lucky?. . .

I'm persevering with this Stephen West KAL because I absolutely love the pattern, but it's been really tough to get my colours right.  This was the first incarnation and my border colour just didn't have enough contrast (along with having mixed up a RS with a WS).  Scrapped.

For my second endeavour, I got as far as halfway through Clue #2.  These colours go together much better, but they really aren't my colours.  I'd end up never wearing this.

Also my brioche went quite wonky.  Love the springy fabric that it creates though - I just needed more practice.  Version 2 scrapped.

This is version 3  - back to lace weight, using a skein of Noro Sekku with some Debbie Bliss laceweight as the white border.  This is Clue 1 finished and I'm really happy with the colours.

I finished Clue 2 on the train to Harrogate for their Knitting and Stitching Show this past weekend. Still made a few mistakes with the brioche, but they are on the edges and I can live with it.  I really want to knit a whole brioche scarf now.  I feel very chuffed to have learned this new technique. 

Working madly on Clue 3 now which is just rows of garter stitch, before tackling the final clue - a border of chevrons which I may stripe.  The whole shawl is looking a little Christmassy to me, but I think I'll like the finished project.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Daytripping: Victorian Manchester. . .

This post is mainly to extol the virtues of the many volunteers that work so hard to keep England's literary and historical heritage alive and accessible.  Earlier this month I made a day trip to Manchester with my bookish friends to visit two such sites that have been saved from demolition and decay by the hard work of many passionate people.

Our first stop was the recently reopened house of novelist Elizabeth Gaskell.

I blogged earlier about a trip to Knutsford, the town that inspired Gaskell's Cranford, but she actually wrote the book, along with North and South, Ruth, Wives and Daughters and her biography of Charlotte Bronte, in this house - 84 Plymouth Grove.

While there is still a lot of work to be done on restoring the house, you will not meet a nicer, enthusiastic or more knowledgeable group of volunteers, greeting you at the door, answering questions in each of the period rooms and taking their turns serving tea in the delightful basement tea room (you get to pick your own china tea cup).  Most of the ground floor has been restored and they are working on recreating one of the bedrooms upstairs.  Plans are also well under way on the garden as well; a place that Gaskell loved for its privacy as this plaque celebrates. 

Just a short walk from Gaskell's house is another major restoration work in progress - the Victoria Baths, originally opened in 1906 and left to decay after it was closed in 1993. The Friends of Victoria Baths have worked tirelessly to save the building.  We managed to get a glimpse inside on the last weekend it was open to the public before shutting for the winter.

The building has a gorgeous facade and originally had three separate entrances; one for First Class Males, one for Second Class Males and the final one for Females.

This is the Females Pool which was the smallest of the three.

I love the beachy feel of the change rooms that lined the side of the pool.

The whole building has remnants of beautiful decorative features from distinctive tiles along the landings and stairways to mosaic floors and stained glass windows.  There is a workshop in the basement where volunteers are learning how to repair and restore the stained glass.

Even the old supervisor's rooms have some gorgeous features like this beautiful fireplace.

The basement also houses the Turkish Baths with their beautiful blue and teal tile work.

Both sites are well worth a visit if you are in the Manchester area.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Out of My Colour Comfort Zone: Clue #1. . .

I've decided to go in a completely different direction with Stephen West's Exporation Station mystery KAL.  After knitting for about two hours and discovering I'd made a silly mistake and a RS became a WS, I couldn't face ripping back about twenty rows of mohair!

On to plan B.  I've changed the border colour; the dark teal is Titus Eccup.  And for my three contrast colours, I've used a ball of Louisa Harding Amitola which has long colour changes.  The wedges aren't as defined as some of the lovely projects I've seen on ravelry - there are some with really bold colours outlined in white that are fantastic looking - and these colours are a little out of my comfort zone but I'm liking the look so far and absolutely loving the knitting process.  As always, Stephen West has delivered a really unique and interesting pattern, so I'm trying to embrace the odd colours and see where they (or Stephen) will lead me.

The next clue has just arrived and it's brioche stitch - a completely new technique to me.  Dare I switch up some of the colours or even add a new one into the mix?  I'm looking foward to experimenting this weekend. . .