Friday, October 29, 2010

Home Ground

Half-term and I feel as though I am "nivver off t'road", as my mother used to say.  First, we visit the in-laws in the Cotswolds on a bitterly cold weekend.  Somehow, freezing fog seems to gather over Stratford-upon-Avon.

Next, by train to this northern city, Carlisle, its streets studded with Georgian treasures like this one.

Georgian street in Carlisle.

To Wigton, birthplace of Melvyn Bragg, the very essence of a run-down and depressed small town, although this memorial looks bright enough.  Sample"crack" in the charity shop I visited:

"How come he had a 36 inch flat-screen telly when he was burgled and he's nivver had a job in his life?"

"Mebbe somebody was just pinching it back."

Highly edifying, but if one was planning a slice-of-life drama set in the north...

Wigton, Cumbria

To Caldbeck, where John Peel has his grave, and where the Wool Clip, and the cafe above it at the Priest's Mill, is a place of pilgrimage:

Caldbeck Church

Click the picture to read the date over the door on this cottage.

It was wet and windy while I was in Cumbria, but weather like that creates the most dramatic lighting effects.  Here, the play of light over the fells as seen from the A596.

Finally, knitting.  I travelled up by train and entered the usual conversation with a lady of a similar age to me, as I showed her my progress on the Aeolian shawl in the lovely Cascade silk.  Why is it that people imagine you could sell hand-knitted items at a profit, or that you would want to?

This last, a cushion made from a failed attempt at a Starmore sweater, which was impossibly bulky. The buttons are Icelandic reindeer horn, gifted to me by my sister.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Period Details

A brilliantly sunny day last Sunday: so wonderful I cannot bear to be indoors.  We took down our bean row and began the last of the heavy digging on the allotment.  Courgettes, beans, leeks, swede and the two butternut sqashes -all gathered in.

 A walk up Church Street takes you past some fascinating period details.  Bow-windows with bulls-eye glass:

Full timbered houses, some of which have been shops at one time:

Carved bressumers:

And woodwork revealing previous use as a butcher's shop;

A quaint, country inn:

And a clothing warehouse, last remnant of the trade that built the wealth of the area over the centuries:

At last to the church, St Peter ad Vincula, with its "flinty, fifteenth-century tower", as Betjeman has it, although, in this case, war damage necessitated a rebuild at that end.

I don't think that this is the brass of Thos. Paycocke and his wife, but it is of the right period.

Finally, this week's tweed.  I can't tell you how happy this fabric makes me.  It's a jersey base, with the other threads felted on to the surface.  At Ally Pally, I saw a commercial stall selling a coat with panels of this fabric.  I plan to make the usual basic  skirt, the only dilemma being whether to feature the plain edges as the hem.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Old Beams

I'm currently embarked upon an Aeolian shawl, using this glorious laceweight silk, bought at the i-knit Weekender.    What really strikes me about this, apart from the lovely colour mix, is the label.  This must be an American import but the silk is said to be from Switzerland.  So this yarn has crossed the Atlantic twice, at the very least.  Henry's Attic and Cherry Tree Hill both appear on the label, leaving me not much wiser.  Since I try not to buy air-freighted veg, it does seem that we might need to invent the concept of yarn-miles.

Last week the Clock Tower and now the National Trust property in the village: Paycockes' house.  This is a wonderful mediaeval merchant's house, the exterior covered in very intricately carved beams.  It is an astonishing survival, since less than twenty years ago, the main A120 thundered past it, bringing huge lorries through from Harwich.  Houses lining the route were blackened with road dirt, and it was not unusual for buildings to be nudged when two juggernauts met.

The lovely linen-fold panelling on the doors guarded by these mysterious figures.

Every small section bears its elaborate decoration; it's a treasure-trove of detailed imagery, and a constant delight, as every time you look, there's something more to see.

And what might these be?  They are Pocket Book Slippers - see Ravelry .  You insert your foot into one side and the ribbing stretches to become a Mary Jane type slipper. Not a very substantial slipper granted, but one for indoors on a cold night, or for hotel rooms. 

These were knit from two skeins of Art Yarns sent to me as a reward for knitting little hats for the Innocent Smoothies campaign, by someone called Amelia.  It is lovely smooth hand-painted yarn, but each skein is unique, as can actually be seen here, in the more yellowed and muted colours of the left hand slipper.

Friday, October 08, 2010


We are blessed to be living in a village with a long history - the clock tower dating from Victoria's Jubilee - and yet which still has an excellent butcher, a Spar and a Co-op which are open until late, and at least five functioning hostelries within walking distance.
But it's only now, when one of my free days coincides with market day, that we can really take advantage of the goodies on offer.  A well-stocked fruit and veg stall....

a huge array of artisan loaves and cakes...

and, best of all, fresh fish and a cheese stall offering about fifty different cheeses.  One could spend a fortune, and some do.

This week's tweed, now a skirt.  Some many years ago, my mother's eldest sister died and, in the clearing of her house, a box of textile items was set aside for me.  Last week, rummaging through our loft for a quite different piece of fabric, I lit upon this.  A quick soak in Wool Wash and an hour or two on the line and there was a yard of tweed in colours which were doubtless biding their time for this season.  The zip, lining and petersham together came to about four pounds, so I am well-pleased with this.

Today, to Ally Pally, to a market of a quite different nature.  The heat, the crowds, the over-whelming range of choices on offer - each year I vow "Never again" and each year I forget the discomfort enough to venture forth again.