Sunday, February 22, 2015

Midwinter Spring...

To Cumbria for half-term, my one day a week tuition meaning we are still following school terms.

February 14th - what could one expect?  A low sky? Drizzle?  But instead we were blessed by the first of two glorious days, not of winter sunshine, but of the real thing - full-on blue skies, high wispy cloud, and just a bit of haze to take the edge off the views.

Last year we climbed Dodd for the first time, and now it looks like entering our regular rotation of walks.  We climbed up through woodlands already alive with birdsong, on paths which are so well maintained that you don't have to pick your way.  Opposite, the flank of Skiddaw still bore streaks of snow; the summit of Lower Man intermittently wreathed in cloud.

We emerged from the woodland; suddenly, there was the view - right down Derwentwater to Lodore, the lake glistening in the haze. 

A little higher, and the view to the west opened up: Bassenthwaite, with all the land down to the Solway beyond.

By now a brisk wind had got up, as often on even a small top.  We ate lunch sitting on a rock and then made our way down the terraced paths to the Sawmill tearoom at the bottom.  Three miles, but, like last time, it took three hours as it is quite a stiff climb.

And so to Sunday: another clear, bright day.  We took out our bikes and headed up the coast.  Once, you had to compete with boy racers testing their engines on the coastal road to Silloth, but now a very useful track has been laid, for cycling and walking, and it is much used.  We were able to take our time, stopping to survey the foreshore which was alive with birdlife: redshanks, oystercatchers, curlew, their wavering, trilling calls unmistakable.

A little further and we saw stonechats sunning themselves, perched out atop exposed stalks.

We went on through Allonby and up to Beckfoot, where we ate lunch sitting on the beach - in February.

The last day of good weather saw us taking the route above Loweswater, leading to High Nook Tarn.  On our way we crossed a sheltered field in which many birds were foraging.  first we saw a songthrush, now increasingly rare for us.  But then we saw both redwings and fieldfares, which are winter thrushes.  Two bullfinches were perched in a bush and I was delighted to spot a treecreeper.  I am not a birder, but it is good to be able to name the species, just as we are increasingly able to identify individual hilltops in the Lakes.

Work continues on my latest project: the Skye cardigan.  The chart for this is available free on
Ravelry, where it was used on the front of socks.  Here, I am using a maroon Shetland
heathered with ginger and rust, paired with the Katia Ole sock yarn in a pinkish colourway.
The challenge here was to find a way of mirroring the chart for the two fronts.  What do you know?  It turns out that holding the chart up to a mirror, and taking a photo of it in the mirror, gives a good enough image to use for the second front.


Sunday, February 08, 2015


I've been having issues uploading pictures - still not resolved.  Warning: heavy knitting content.

Over the Christmas break I found myself knitting the sleeves of Signild for the second time after picking up the stitches around the arm hole.  There is a tutorial on how to do this posted by  Bygumbygolly - I've no idea why this is the name of the site.  It does make it very clear, with masses of pictures, exactly what to do.  The writer explains that it is all based on Barbara Walker's "Knitting from the Top down", so of course I had to order that too.

 Essentially, you work out how many stitches are going to be needed for the widest part of the sleeve across the upper arm.  Then you pick up that many stitches around the armhole using a shortish circular.   You knit across the top third of the stitches for the top of the sleeve. Then you begin to work short rows across the upper part of the sleeve head, picking up one stitch each row and wrapping and turning.  It is all much clearer with pictures.

A website I am devoted to is Ravelry, and it never ceases to amaze me when I talk to keen knitters who have never heard of it.  What I love most about it is the world wide reach of its membership.  When I posted images of the Whithorn Celtic pullover on Ravelry, the first comment I received was from someone in the Falkland Islands, and the second from someone in a hill-station in India.  Knitting as an international language?

More recently, I've been working on some cowls.  The first was this very useful moss-stitch cowl in a Noro yarn  This is very snug when wrapped around twice close to the face, and the silk yarn makes it bearable against the skin.  The subtle colour shifts of Noro make this a special item.

Next, was this mustard cowl using a lace and bobble stitch from another stitch directory.   I have been struck by how mustard and a number of different acid greens have been to the fore in recent seasons.  This one picks up the mustardy flecks in my tweed Lavenham jacket.

Finally, this purple cowl, using a complex stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's "Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns".  This is a Drops yarn, Nepal, a mix of wool and alpaca.  I'm pleased with the stitch definition and colour.  This year, I found myself stuck for a Secret Santa gift at the last minute.  I'm thinking that this might go in my bottom drawer for just such an event.