Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The High Life

This weekend to Basildon Park, a National Trust property near Reading.  We were looking for an interesting garden walk and a civilised coffee stop en route to lunch with friends.  Some years ago, we toured the house and were massively impressed by the fact that much of the interior was assembled after the war, using features rescued from other country houses which were being demolished.  Somewhere, we read that the couple had been looking for a Georgian property - and there just happened to be one, standing empty, on the family lands - something we can all relate to!

   Now, there is a little film feature of Lady Iliffe describing her first sight of the house, standing empty before the war, and then again seeing it in a much more perilous state after lead had been stripped from the roof when it had been in the hands of the Ministry of Works. More recently, the Christmas special of "Downton Abbey" was filmed in the house.

This time we enjoyed the sunshine outdoors, while it lasted.  We saw red kites nesting in a tree: huge birds when directly overhead.  Near the house, this mysterious group of very mature trees.

Following on from the completion of my Celtic Throw, I made this cushion, again using Nennir by Lucy Hague.  This one is made of Drops yarm, a mixture of wool and alpaca.  I started by knitting one repeat of the pattern and then took some time to grasp that I needed to knit it to fit a cushion pad.
I picked up stitches at each end and knitted to match the length, and then picked up the edges and knit outwards for two and a half inches to fit the width.  With the cabling centred like this it looks like a fragment of masonry, as in the Viking crosses.

I backed the cushion with a piece of Donegal tweed - I love tweed.  I particularly like the coloured slubs on this piece.  I back-stitched this together, while watching last week's "Sewing Bee."  Something about watching people customise items in set time limits.  Could this format work for knitting?  With clever editing, I'm sure it could.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Bas relief

So, what can this be?  A giant's Aran sweater? Or this?
Interesting how even cream looks different in different light.

 Here is the central panel of my latest throw.  It's a cable panel called Nennir, designed by Lucy Hague and available to print off for free from Knitty.  It's flanked by two cable panels, one from Barbara Walker and one from another stitch directory.

It's hard to take a picture of the whole thing: here is one end.  I decided to use two mirror image Celtic cables for the end panels.  These are spirals based on imagery from the "Book of Durrow", no less, and charted some time ago by Monsterknitter.

This is the other end of the throw.  The last strip to be worked was this simple zig-zag, and, if you look carefully, you can see the ha'porth of tar, not that I think it really spoils the ship.  I bought a number of different lots of the main yarn, Hayfield 100% wool Aran, and they did vary quite a lot, not only in colour but also in texture.  I thought this was unlikely to matter if each complete section used the same dyelot.  On this final strip I ran out of yarn about four inches from the end and used two different oddments to finish it off. I don't think you would notice it on this view, for instance.

Or this.

 I am very pleased with how it turned out.  This will be the fifth throw I have made, and perhaps my last for now.  Although, I do wonder how one made from wool from different rare breeds would turn out...

Friday, March 14, 2014


One of my closest friends is out in South Africa at the moment, taking in the Victoria Falls, Cape Town, a big game safari...

Meanwhile, my husband and I planned an expedition to Sudbury, a small market town some fifteen miles north of here.  The plan was to take the train there  - and cycle back.  Trains go off on a little branch line which must have once been the norm over most of Britain.  How this one survived is a mystery.

The day dawned to thick fog, but this was promised to burn off by late morning so we set out to cycle to our local station.  Our faces stung with cold as we reached the platform.  Then we saw that the train we had planned to take had been cancelled.  What to do?  In the end we just whiled away the hour until the next train, probably allowing the fog to burn away.

Once at Sudbury, we made our way to the Henny road, down the valley of the Stour.  This concrete structure is a pill-box, one of many put there to protect against threat of invasion.

We enjoyed the many ancient farms, cottages and churches on the route, but were most pleased to see two hares running across a field, something we have never seen before.  March hares, perhaps?

Half-way home is the Thatchers' Arms, and very welcome it was too.   We had bubble and squeak with a fried pigeon breast, black pudding and a poached egg - the kind of food one could imagine local cottagers eating for supper on good days. It certainly hit the spot as expedition fare.

After another hour's cycling, down into the Colne valley and then up and over into the valley of the Blackwater; we were on the home stretch.  It gave us ideas for further trips - once the saddle soreness wears off.


This is half of my latest throw, now nearing completion.  The length of the most complex panel - Nennir by Lucy Hague -  had to dictate the length of all the strips, so extra repeats have had to be added to some.

A thought did occur to me about the significance of the Celtic knotwork, with its illusion of infinity.  Some religious buildings include a maze, to aid meditation.  What if these designs were to be used like mazes, only without the need to walk the lines?