Friday, 29 December 2017

All the Angles Covered: A Winter Walk in the Lakes. . .

We had a very green Christmas in Liverpool this year so it was lovely to get up to the Lake District yesterday for a winter walk.  The weather conditions could not have been better - clear and sunny, with the temperature hovering around the zero mark.

After carefully driving along the Kirkstone Pass (fortunately it's been gritted), we parked at Hartsop and did an eight mile circular, first heading towards Ullswater which you can just see peeking out in this photo, taken as we were climbing up towards the crossroads of Boredale Hause.

We then turned east but I couldn't resist looking backwards at Place Fell, looking rather majestic with its snow covered top.  We last did a walk there three years ago.

I don't think I've ever seen the mountains looking more beautiful.

I had asked the Liverpud to devise a route that would specifically go past Angle Tarn, one of my favourite places in the Lakes.  It was part of one of the very first walks we ever did together in this region and we also took part of this route on our memorable Coast to Coast holiday.  So this was our main destination, but we decided to climb both of the nearby Angle Tarn peaks because neither of us had done it before.  Here is the view from the first one, looking west.

And here is the view from the top of peak number two, where you can clearly see the first one.  While I was initially a bit trepidatious about winter walking (we didn't have crampons with us), the snow was really powdery and easy on the feet. It helped that the ground was frozen beneath (no mud!) and though you did need to be careful to watch out for icy patches, the paths were quite easy to walk on with just our hiking boots.  I was definitely thankful I'd brought my poles though.

And from the second Angle Tarn peak, our first glimpse of Angle Tarn proper.

It was a good day to wear my new hat too - this is Elska, designed by Ysolda Teague, knit in Jamieson and Smith's Heritage yarn and it definitely kept me warm and cozy.

The following are some shots down by Angle Tarn itself, and as we were leaving after a lunch break. The wind had died down and it was so quiet and peaceful; all you could hear was the lapping of the water against the shore.  Bliss.

We then continued towards The Knott.  There were plenty of clear pools of water along the route which were just stunning.


The Knott, which was our next and final ascent, is that little bump, lying just to the left of Hayeswater Reservoir.

Here's the view from the top.

And then we descended, walking down to Hayeswater and then down the valley back to Hartsop.

Back in the village we looked behind us and saw the moon had appeared above The Knott.

As the late afternoon sunshine was settling on the fells around Brotherswater.

It was a fantastic walk - a great way to end a year of more spectacular walking.

Friday, 15 December 2017

An AddiCrasyTrio Review or What Might Finally Turn Me into a Sock Knitter. . .

Last month there was a bit of a buzz in the knitting world as Addi released these new bendy sock needles.  I'm not a big sock knitter, mostly because I find knitting socks with dpns quite fiddly - I am always dropping stitches off them -  and I get bored with magic loop for small circumferences.  However, since they come in needle sizes up to 5mm and I was about to start on the sleeves of my Carpino jumper, I thought I would give these a try.  I have always enjoyed knitting with Addi needles, especially the lace ones, so was happy to make the investment. You can never have too many tools, can you?

In each package  you get three needles - you divide your stitches evenly between two of them and then knit with the third.  In the photo below, I am using 3.5mm needles.

I initially found them a bit awkward until I'd knit a few rounds and found a way of holding them that felt comfortable in my hands.  When switching needles, I found it worked best if I held the new left hand needle behind the needle I had just finished knitting, and straightened out the bendy bit of the needle so that I was knitting straight.  I found the transition between one needle and another quite smooth - there were no visible ladders as long as I gave the first two stitches a nice tug. My only reservation about using these for sleeves is that the length is just a wee bit small and I did accidentally drop a few stitches, particularly at the beginning (I was knitting the sleeves top down). Fortunately it was very easy to pick them up in stocking stitch.  As I did my decreases and got used to the needles, it wasn't as much of a problem.  My advice for the larger circumferences is definitely to have a few needle point protectors on hand, especially when putting the knitting aside, or shoving it into a project bag. And I probably wouldn't use them on sleeves with a lace or cable pattern. They are definitely more user friendly (for me at least) than dpns, and much faster than magic loop, which is usually my preferred method of knitting sleeves.

I had purchased needles in two sizes, so I next decided to try them on mini-socks.  I've been participating in The Loveliest Yarn Company's Sockvent 2017 KAL.  Michelle has designed 25 mini-sock patterns and I get one delivered to my inbox every day. They can be used as decorations or strung together as festive bunting. There is no way I will get them all done by Christmas, but will work on them over the next twelve months in smug preparation for next year. It is definitely getting me interested in casting on more sock knitting.

For these tiny socks, I've really enjoyed using the AddiCrasyTrio.  No worries with dropped stitches and I don't even need stitch markers. They also fold up nicely in a project bag and don't pierce the fabric as my sharper dpns used to do.  Here are three of my finished mini-socks. 

And my finished Carpino, designed by Carol Feller and knit in Baa Ram Ewe's Titus 4ply in the delicious Eccup colourway.  I think I need more teal in my wardrobe.  Excuse the wrinkles, but I do think it came out rather nice.

I really love the fit, especially around the shoulders.

So far, given the projects I have used them for, I would definitely recommend the AddiCrasyTrio needles but I suppose the ultimate test would be to actually use them for wearable socks. To be continued. . .

Friday, 1 December 2017

Finding Inspiration From Books and Books That Inspire. . .

Last weekend I traveled to Harrogate for their annual Knitting and Stitching Show. It's a different type of experience in that the proportion of yarn vendors is much less than the usual shows I attend and they are spread out among fabric and embroidery booths (which is not to say that I didn't buy any yarn as one of the booths was Jamieson and Smith, but that wasn't my prime reason for going).  There are lots of displays by talented textile artists which I really enjoy seeing.  Two in particular caught my eye.

Hue is a collective of textile artists working in Hertfordshire, in the south of England. They got together to read Robert Macfarlane's book The Old Ways, about all the paths made by nature, the weather, history and folklore, that one can find - hidden and visible - across the U.K.  While I still haven't read it, I do own a copy and this exhibit has really inspired me to crack it open.

The artists decided to create works out of fabric and stitching in response to the parts of the book that really resonated with their reading experience.  In the photo below, are a number of works in the same size as the paperback copy, re-imagining the cover. These were sold in aid of charity.

This was my favourite with its 3D effect.  I'm sorry I don't have the artist's name - I couldn't see it listed with the work.

Other works in the room included Landmarks; Green Hollow by Elisabeth Rutt. She hand stitched over old maps and felt.

She also created these "Pebblescapes".  Above is Coast and below is Gneiss, with their "darned" pebbles.

This piece is titled An Unquiet Sea by Carola Garvie.  She drew an outline of the Shetland islands on linen and then embellished the sea around it with wool and silk.

This was also this stunning 3D piece  - Where Are the Crickets? by Janette Day-Brown. The bark is created with machine embroidery. 

The second room that really caught my eye was an exhibit by Amy Twigger Holroyd.  One wall was dedicated to showing how to re-fashion or repair a basic child's sweater.  

She also had some amazing embellished knitwear inspired by English cathedrals.  Her approach to sustainable fashion was so creative and interesting that I had to pick up her recent book which will no doubt make for some fascinating and thought provoking reading alongside The Old Ways. Meg, aka Mrs M's Curiosity Cabinet reviewed the book on her latest podcast here.

Speaking of projects inspired by books and books that will definitely inspire, I should be getting my copy of Karie Westermann's This Thing of Paper any day now.  This is a collection of eleven knitting patterns, all inspired by the love of books - their history, their construction, the pure physicality of this most beautiful and powerful object. 

Books and knitting - is there a better combination?  I got to test knit the Rubrication Shawl for Karie and will do a separate post on that shortly, but this book has really inspired me to go to my bookshelves, delve into my stash and celebrate both.  I'll be casting on the Psalter Shawl first and I have chosen colours that reflect my love of Persephone Books.  They are the most gorgeous books I own with their classic grey and cream covers and then that unexpected burst of colour inside as their endpapers reproduce fabrics from the era in which either the book is set or was published.  I shall be using some Titus 4ply and Lichen and Lace in the pewter colourway.  And then adding a third colour - Ripple Crafts' Assynt Storms 4ply which is just a riotous explosion of colour. 


I can't wait to cast on.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

One Week Later. . .

What a difference a week makes.  On Sunday we did the Win-Lose walk with our rambling group.  It was colder, windier, and much muddier. We also had to walk quite briskly to make sure we were down from the hills before the light faded. 

Snow does add some beauty to the landscape however.

All the woollens were on - hat, mittens, cozy cowl.  I also switched out my usual fleece for my Icelandic lopi sweater and while I did sweat going up the hills, my core never felt chilled.  So wool wins the day again.

Friday, 24 November 2017

A Win-Lose Situation. . .

I have done several walks in the Peak District but have always started from Hayfield, as in this classic Kinder Scout walk, or Edale, (see this walk and this walk),  so I enjoyed helping the Liverpud recce an upcoming walk in the area, starting this time from Castleton, which is on the other side of the Edale Valley.

We started our walk down some pleasant country lanes, crossing a few fields of relaxed sheep who were clearly enjoying the late autumn sunshine.  We are heading for Win Hill which is just peeping out over the crest in the photo below.

Below is a photo taken half-way up Win looking back at where we came, and also at Lose Hill (pronounced Luce, I believe), that pointy hill just popping up between the two trees. That will be our final climb.

But first Win Hill.

From the top you can get a nice view of the Ladybower Reservoir.  The colours of the moorland are so rich this time of year.

Coming down from Win, we followed this path along the ridge, getting ever so closer to Lose Hill.  It was just a glorious day - chilly at times when the sun went behind a cloud, but otherwise the perfect temperature for a pleasant walk.

At this point we came down off the ridge, crossed the valley below and started our ascent up Lose, which is quite gradual.  It starts off in woods.

And when you come out of the forest at this gate, you feel as though you're at least half way.

This is the view from the top of Lose looking towards Mam Tor and the Edale Valley.  Again you get to walk along a ridge and enjoy the views . . .

. . . before turning off and heading down, back to Castleton.  You can just see Win Hill in the distance.

Castleton is a really delightful little town but it was too dark when we arrived to take any decent photos. It has lots of lovely shops, pubs and cafes, and their Christmas lights should be on when we return this weekend with our walking group.  Though we only did this walk last Sunday, I'm quite happy to revisit it; I just hope the weather is as nice.