Thursday, July 12, 2018


I'm knitting Arboreal by Jennifer Steinglass.  This is a top-down yoke sweater and I am using Batik by Stylecraft, a 20% wool yarn.  I chose it because the colour really spoke to me.  I bought the recommended size and length of circular needles.

So, last time I had cast on the neckline and begun the yoke of stranded colourwork.  I have begun topdown sweaters before but have never finished one.  I think this is because I don't like circular needles.

There I was at my knitting group happily knitting along when the stitches started to slide off the right hand needle somehow.  The cable had pulled out of the point.  I realised that it was a screw fitment and wrestled it back in place, picking up the stitches.  But then the joint began to fail because the cable was shearing off.  Fortunately I had a 4mm  circular to hand and was able to transfer the stitches before the cable finally gave out.

Now I am jogging along on the body of the sweater simply knitting round and round.  I decided against waist shaping as I don't want it tight across my stomach.

Batik is performing well for a budget yarn and I am happy with the speckle effect.  However, twice I have come across a major boggle, once at the end of a ball and once after a knot.

 Here the dye changed from a speckle to a solid, once light and once dark.  Knitted into the middle of  sweater body this would create a distinct and anomalous line.  I simply cut the yarn and removed the solid colour sections, but it was a surprise to find them there in the first place.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Day Trip

A little outing, a break from the endless round of watering the allotment and shifts at Paycocke's House.  We went by train to Norwich.

Our main objective was the Castle Museum where an exhibition relating to the Paston Treasure had been mounted.   The treasure in question is a large painting, dating from the 1680s, showing all the objects collected by the famous Paston family.  Alongside the ornate gold-mounted shells and timepieces are some odd items, notably a stuffed parrot and a huge lobster.  Also present are an African slave and a daughter of the family, so clearly the word "treasure" could be read in different ways.  We really enjoyed our visit; you might enjoy visiting the website for the museum where you can view a short video deconstructing the picture.

Norwich is always a delight visually because there are ancient churches everywhere, several repurposed as tea-rooms.

We ate lunch in the cathedral refectory.

On the way back to the station, this amusing shop - or shoppe, as it says.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A bit of knitting...

It's gone a bit quiet on the knitting front.  I began a cardigan in this rather subtle grey-blue yarn, bought for £3 from a boot fair some years ago.

The idea was to knit a frame from one of Co Spinhovens's charts in "Charted Celtic Patterns."  I started one front then got stuck - how to create a mirror image of the chart.  Fortunately my husband was able to scan in the image and locate a command called "Flip" and it worked.

Now I have two lower fronts knit, plus the plain back, but what to do within the frame?  My idea was to use some of the Celtic roundels from the book, possibly stacked one above the other.  It's still at the rumination phase.

So - when in doubt, buy more yarn.  A little outing to The Cheap Shop in Tiptree - never was a shop so wrongly named.  This is Batik yarn by Stylecraft, 80% acrylic and 20% wool.  I bought it for the vibrancy of the colour.  Paired with a silvery grey, this is the start of Arboreal by Jennifer Steinglass.

I have yet to complete a top-down sweater, and I prefer knitting flat, but this is going well so far.  I certainly like the colours.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Watching paint dry

On our recent trip to Cumbria, we had unusually fine weather.  So fine that we were able to contemplate tackling the front door. Our property is in a coastal settlement and corrosive sea air seems to weather surfaces faster than normal. Last year I used sandpaper to rub down the blistered varnish and applied a new coat.  However, all this did was varnish over a scabbled surface.  This time we were determined to do a good job and laid in supplies of Nitromors.

This is one of those tasks which you wish you had never started.  After all a scabbled surface is of no real consequence.  But once we had started we had to finish.  Working in shifts, we removed the stained surface of the door, sanded it down and restained the wood.  Then we needed two coats of varnish, which takes twelve hours to dry.  So we found ourselves working in shifts to watch paint - or in this case, varnish - dry.  But we were very pleased with the finished result.

So, on to our last walk - Bleaberry Fell and High Seat.  We drove to Keswick and parked in the carpark near Ashness Bridge.  From here we climbed the steep Walla Crag path.  It was a gloriously sunny day.

We turned right towards Bleaberry Fell, following a clear path.  Towards the summit a set of very steep steps has been helpfully laid.  It was a stiff pull up the last stretch.

The views across Derwentwater opened up.  You can easily see how much the water level has dropped in the recent dry weather.

Between Bleaberry and High Seat is an expanse of boggy ground.  We were relieved to find that the dry spell had done its work here too, as we hopped from tuft to tuft.  High Seat too offered expansive views.

We headed back down towards the gorge of Ashness Beck.  Here, a narrow path led vertiginously around the rim.  It was wild terrain, quite unlike the chocolate box image of the lower beck by the famous bridge.  We were relieved to get back to the car.

Taking tea  at Brysons in the middle of Keswick, I was surprised to see an older, but not frail, lady counting the steps down from the toilets.

"Just keeping a record of all the stairs I've climbed" she chuckled in a self-congratulatory manner. Perhaps she lives in a bungalow?

Friday, June 08, 2018

Rannerdale Bluebells

After our week near Hawkshead, we moved on to our own cottage in west Cumbria.  A regular walk for us has always been Rannerdale, and the bluebells of Rannerdale are justly famous.  So Rannerdale it was.

But we were not alone.  An entire camera group was in full swing up and down the bluebell banks.  People who did not look like natural walkers were venturing out.  The valley was full of bluebell tourists, some of whom were determined to make it to the top for their lunch, panting and sweating as they went.

Odd how they have spread so far up the hillside - the bluebells, that is.

We have done this walk in all weathers, but prefer it when we have it more or less to ourselves.
Oddly, looking at these pictures, you would never guess that so many people were out and about that day.

Thursday, June 07, 2018


Of course, we had been building ourselves up to tackling a Big One. - Wetherlam.   In view most of the time was the Old Man of Coniston, a mountain which we usually count as our first serious climb, almost thirty years ago. On that occasion we followed a very stiff route up the front for two hours only to find that many others had walked up the quarry road at the back and reached the summit that way.  But we still remember that airy ridge feeling as we walked round to Dow Crag feeling on top of the world  - and the wonderful relief of cups of tea back in Coniston after descending the Walna Scar road. Wetherlam is the next top along from the Old Man.

This time we drove to Tilberthwaite where we were interested to see this example of the work of Andy Goldsworthy, a sculptor who has reconstructed a whole series of ancient sheep folds. Inset in the centre of each side is a panel of slate mosaic - a circle in a square. This one certainly makes you think - about the interface between practical ingenuity, craft skills and art.

This is a landscape bearing many signs of an industrial past with disused quarries, mineshafts and levels everywhere.

We followed a steadily rising path to the hause reaching across to Wetherlam.

The route we had planned meant that we would return by the same track.

 The final ascent was a scramble over huge broken boulders, so extensive that neither of us could imagine descending by that means.

The summit was, as usual, breathtaking, with views in every direction, including right down the Fylde coast past Heysham and Blackpool Tower.

 We took stock.  We asked a number of those who were coming in from other directions about their route and identified a path down the other side with a longer walk back to the car.  This suited us.

The ground dropped away, but not in the precipitous way of the boulder scramble.  And for some, this is simply their home turf.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Rest Day

Mid-week - and another fine day.  We began by driving down to Sawrey and on to the ferry terminal.  A car ferry runs continuously across Windermere, cutting off a long road loop through Ambleside.

First stop was Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts house, always a treat to visit.

After lunch it was on to Holehird, a very special garden occupying a sloping site.

The views from here are spectacular.

So then we drove down the lake road to a parking place from which we could access Gummer's How.  On with the boots and a short stiffish climb to the summit.  Looking down to the end of Windermere.