Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The last Lap

Thank you for the encouraging comments on the Jewels waistcoat.  If you are thinking of trying some Fair Isle my advice would be: just choose a background colour and assemble three or four contasting colours in the same weight of yarn. ( You could order a small selection from Jamieson and Smith in Lerwick - they have a website.)  Cast on twenty stitches of background colour and try out a few simple patterns.  If you use the tweedy, heathered yarns you often find that even unlikely combinations work well together.  Because Fair Isle only involves two colours per row, it is relatively easy to learn the repeats for each row eg 3 background, 3 contrast. 

On the Jewels waistcoat I am not attempting any shading or blending, so each section uses just two yarns.  Your sample piece will show you how many stitches you are achieving per inch.  That then shows you how many to cast on for your size - eg For a waistcoat measuring forty inches, each front will need to be about ten inches.  Say that you are getting eight stitches per inch  - that's just eight times ten = eighty.  Alternatively, you could let someone else do the maths, and just use a published Fair Isle waistcoat pattern, substituting your own yarn choices.

Some of you have spotted that blog time is more elastic than real time.  Of course I was not working on the waistcoat while on our cycling holiday, and we in fact returned some weeks ago.  It was such an interesting trip that I had enough material for several entries; this will probably be the last of them.

Leaving the Saline Royale, we took it steady back along the banks of the River Loue, looking for a shady spot to rest up.  My husband remarked that it was just the sort of  place for kingfishers, and we settled down to enjoy the shade.  We did see several quite sizeable fish hanging in the current, feeding on the weed.  After half an hour we got up to cycle on and, just at that moment, there was the flash of brilliant colour and we saw the kingfisher.

In Port Lesney we were staying at a rather quirky hotel - not the one where Raymond Blanc dines when back in the Franche Comte.  French breakfasts can be very elaborate affairs, featuring every combination of cheese and charcuterie.  Here we had oped for a lighter selection.  The chap in charge nevertheless brought us some little samples to try: pear jam, conserve made from peches a la vigne, and the most delicious heather honey, thick and fudgy.  Little lines of bee-hives can be seen all over the Jura.

The following day was our final day's cycling: across country to the valley of the Doubs and then following the river and the canal path all the way back to Besancon.  Mist was just clearing as we began the journey. Overhead we could hear the calling of buzzards which had been a constant feature throughout the trip.  In the fields, the last of the grazing herds of Montbelliard cattle, their cow-bells chiming.  We noted once again the predominance of walnut trees, just beginning to pour their crop down on to the roads, and everywhere orchards laden with fruit. 

Soon we were into more populated areas with much evidence of how the river was once used to power small factories, using weirs.  On the canal path we suddenly saw another kingfisher - and then a second one following it up the stream - something we have never seen before.

About ten kilometres out of Besancon it began to spot with rain - the first of our trip.  We put on anoraks and went on.  Just as we reached the only bistro on the route, the heavens opened.  We hurried inside.  This was certainly where the locals ate, with every table full of people on their lunch hours eating the plat du jour of pork chops in a curry sauce, followed by the ubiquitous creme brulee.   I ordered a friture and ate the most delicious fried sandre, apparently a river fish, with firm white flesh.  We missed the only downpour of our trip and were able to to cycle back into Besancon, through that tunnel under the Citadel Rock which we had been through on the boat trip of the first day.

Was this the perfect trip?  We certainly saw some very spectacular  and memorable scenery and felt justified in eating well after our exertions.  We were not knocked out by the cycling, because we had improved our fitness during the year, but it was on the strenuous side at times.  We enjoyed visiting such museums and galleries as there were, but in general the landscape we passed through was deeply rural.  And  we seemed always to miss the vide-greniers and foires de brocantes by a day or two, so I was not able to add to my collection of vintage textiles.  It's an area which is pretty much unvisited by the English., although popular with German motorcyclists.  The fact that I have placed an order for a rather snazzy new bicycle ( My present one was bought in the late 70s) kind of suggests that there may be more cycling to come.


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