Monday, 20 April 2015

Just Us And the Sheep: Broughton-in-Furness. . .

On beautiful sunny weekends, many places in the Lake District can be chockfull with tourists and hikers, but if you stray a bit further from Ambleside, Grasmere or Keswick, there's still plenty of fantastic walking to be done.  The Liverpud and I recently went to recce a route out of Broughton-in-Furness, a small village northwest of Cartmel.  You can park for free around its lovely Georgian square where you can still see the original stocks used to punish crimes in the foreground of this photo.

One thing Broughton has is a FABULOUS bakery (note: closed on Sundays and Mondays).  It's just a few doors down from the post office and if you can step in and resist buying any of the sumptuous baked goods - sweet and savoury -  then I applaud your willpower but you are missing a treat. I bought the best Cornish pasty I've ever tasted this side of Cornwall,  a scrumptious almond raspberry slice, AND a Ginger Treacle Cake to take home.

But on to the walk.  Barely out of the town, you pass Broughton Tower, parts of which were constructed in the 14th century.

As beautiful as the manor is, the vista of what we're talking towards is even better.   Our furthest point in this circular walk will be the top of Stickle Pike among those hills on the left.

We hardly encountered a soul on the walk, but there were lots and lots of curious sheep to keep us company.

Big and little.

Very sweet meandering paths between stone walls. 

And lovely views backwards as we started climbing, where you can just about see the sea in the distance.

Getting closer to Stickle Pike now.

And as you skirt the hill, you get some great glimpses of the fells beyond.

As far as Lake District ascents go, this was comparably easy.  The tufty grass underfoot is very reassuring and there were lots of paths up to the summit.  Even though the wind was blowing something fierce as we climbed up, I never felt in danger of being blown over or falling on hard rock.

Here's the view east from the summit.

A very good place to have lunch. . .

. . . before heading down the other side back to Broughton-in-Furness after one more glance back. The whole circuit was approximately ten miles but after battling strong winds for most of the walk, both of us were completely knackered by the end of it. A good-feel-alive-knackering which is the best kind of course.

Friday, 17 April 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, 15 April 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, 13 April 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, 8 April 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, 6 April 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.