Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Along the Anglesey Coastal Path. . .

It's been two years since we did this walk on the north-western edge of Anglesey, near Holyhead, but last weekend, our rambling group tackled another ten miles of the coastal path on the south side of the island.

We started inland in the village of Maltreath and headed through fields and meadows towards the sea.

Here's the first glimpse of the coast and the moment we all started to feel like school kids on a summer holiday.

There are some gorgeous beaches along this coastline - sandy, enclosed and quite sheltered.  This is the beach near Aberffraw.  A good place to stop for lunch although I always feel quite conspicuous in my hiking gear among the sunbathers and hardy swimmers.

I brought along my summer beach knitting since the colours seemed so appropriate.

We then joined the Anglesey Coastal path which winds its way west and north.  We couldn't have asked for better weather - a really perfect summer's day and lovely coastal breezes.

Ahead is the medieval St. Cwyfan's Church, known as the Church in the Sea, built in the 12th century.  It's located on a tiny tidal island, but there is a rocky causeway connecting it to the mainland and it is still used for services.

As we approached the end of the walk in Rhosneigr, you can just see the top of Holyhead Mountain in the far distance.

And another lovely beach.

Can't have a day by the sea without ice cream.

 I think there are more stunning bits of coastline and on the whole, I preferred our first Anglesey walk, but this one was pleasant enough - good company, sunshine, and walking over the sand gave a decent work out for different leg muscles.

Friday, 14 July 2017

One, Two, Three, Cast-on!. . . .

My resolve is holding firm against my insatiable need to cast-on ALL THE THINGS.  I vowed to finish 3 WIPs for every new cast-on and so far, this seems to be working. In my last post, I showed you my completed Vatsland Jumper (No. 1).  I then finished this fun Talmadge Cloche, (No. 2) designed by Romi Hill, which was July's project for  A Year of Techniques.   I didn't think I'd enjoy knitting a lace hat as much as I did, but the pattern is lovely.  It was knit top down using a pinhole cast-on and then a knitted seed stitch border was added.

Keeping with a lace theme, I also finished my Waterlily, (No. 3) designed by Meghan Fernandes and featured in Pom Pom Quarterly.   I used only two skeins of Juniper Moon Farm Zooey DK which is a cotton/linen blend. I really like the fit but was quite exasperated with the lace top. Had to do a bit of fiddling with the pattern and then folding over and sewing down bits of the back edge as it gaped quite a bit. It still gapes, but it's not nearly as bad as before.  I think I will get quite a lot of use out of this top over the summer.

So three projects off the needles and now the fun part.  I think I've found the perfect project for this
gradient yarn from Canadian dyer,  The Blue Brick.  I picked up two skeins at Yarns Untangled, the last time I was in Toronto - the colourway is called Ocean Fortress.  After knitting several neutral-coloured items, it's fun to contemplate that bright blue on my needles.  I'm not sure it's going to work out yet, so will hold off posting until I get a little further along.

Now, what other teeny, tiny wips do I have hanging around. . . . there are tons of new patterns vying for my attention right now.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

A Tale of Two Sweaters. . .

There are sweaters and then there are sweaters.  Last Sunday I had a rare day at home all to myself with no distractions, so used the opportunity to crack  on and finish the body of my Next Year in Lerwick.

I have really challenged myself with this pattern, beautifully designed by Tori Seierstad, both in trying to use up my stash and in making a few alterations.  I didn't plan all the colours in advance -a  few of them were dictated by what I had on hand, but I think they've worked out.  Now that the body is finished, it looks completely different to what I had initially envisioned in my head, but that's not a bad thing.  I always knew I wanted to use the Daughter of a Shepherd hebridean 4ply as the main background colour with bits of Jamieson & Smith 2ply jumper weight for the contrast colours.  I have a cone of FC65 which is the dark turquoise, and I initially thought it would be the main contrast colour.  But as I worked through each band of motifs, I was using lighter shades of turquoise, on the outsides, building up to the dark in the middle. Now I see that it probably should have been the other way around as there are far more rows of the lighter shades.

I'm not unhappy with the results - just bemused that I got it so wrong, but when you are in the midst of knitting it, sometimes it's hard to see the big picture. I do admire knitters who will swatch with all their colours, or at least use pencil crayons and graph paper to work out all the shading and gradients. I am not one of those knitters, as I'm usually too impatient to get going but I've definitely learned a lot from this project.

My other big alteration was to the neckline, which in the pattern is more of a boatneck, but which I've converted to a smaller scoop neck.  Since this is knit top-down, I used the beginnings of the First Fair Isle jumper that I knit earlier this year and then fudged a bit of the stitch count to get to the same number as the Lerwick pattern when it came to starting the colourwork.

I also omitted the waist shaping so again, had to play with some of the motif numbers with varying success; the sides of this sweater aren't really consistent, but I keep my arms down most of the time, so hopefully it won't be too noticeable.  The dark hebridean yarn is a wee bit thinner than the J & S so I may rip out the hem and redo it in a 1x1 rib with smaller needles. It's flaring out a bit with the 2x3 rib and I'm not sure blocking would solve it.

Spending several hours doing this type of colourwork is hard on the hands so I've put Lerwick aside for a few days before tackling the sleeves (never my favourite bit - it's far too tempting to turn this into a short-sleeved top, but I've come this far, so full sleeves it will be).  For a complete contrast, I picked up and finished my Vatsland Jumper, designed by Ella Gordon.  This was a joy to knit, even the sleeves. I would definitely recommend this pattern for anyone who is new to knitting jumpers.  I added one of the contrast colours to the sleeve cuffs and did an extra row of decreases around the neckline, as well as adding another inch or two to the body.  I think it stretched out a little in the blocking stage, but that can be fixed.  At the moment it's too hot to wear, but this will be the perfect everyday, go-to sweater for the autumn and winter.  It is so cozy and the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter blooms wonderfully after a soak, which really smooths out any tension inconsistencies in the stockinette.

Plain and fancy.  Intricate and basic. Fingering versus Worsted.  Colourful and muted.  We need all of these in our wardrobes and I love being able to create such different looks and types of garments, all through this magical power of knitting.   And another WIP off the needles!