Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Analgesia and exercise

Two weeks ago, working on our allotment, I ricked my back pretty badly.  We had collected nine bags of FYM, and while my husband barrowed them down to the plot, I upended each one to spread on the onion patch.  Somewhere during this process I wrenched a muscle in my lower back. After I had sat for any length of time, I simply could not straighten up.   It was the kind of thing where you find out what being eighty-five will be like, and also realise how close that day now is.

All the more tiresome as we had booked a week in a cottage near Ambleside, for some extended walking before the weather closes in.

However.... After a week I realised that a dose of ibuprofen first thing settled the pain, and then it was sitting,  not walking, which caused problems.

 We began by lunching at Blackwell, on Lake Windermere.  A party of older people were visiting.  One lady sat in that glorious white drawing-room, with its unrivalled views, and commented on how unjust it was that some had money to spend on holiday homes like this in 1900, while others did not know where their next meal was coming from.  This is certainly true, but not what most visitors think while there.  Most of us would just like to live there ourselves.

The next day took us to Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, overlooking Lake Coniston.   On the lake, the steam gondola plies its trade, very Edwardian - but, in fact, Coniston is most known for its use by the Campbells for the speed records in "Bluebird" - and that terrible crash.

Brantwood is another house with fabulous mountain views, this time of the Old Man of Coniston.

And, up behind the house, acres of garden.

Later, the weather having cleared, we walked around Tarn Hows,

On the way, we noticed this odd fallen tree-trunk.  These are not bark-scales but coins, wedged into the cracks in the wood. We saw several like this on this trip, something we have never come across before.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Baby Sophisticate

Yes, unusual name for a pattern, but quite appropriate.  This one has proved less versatile, for me.  However, it's a great way to learn some new skills, and it is really quick to knit.  Designed by Linden Down, it's a free pattern on Ravelry.

It's in an Aran weight, and can be done in two day's knitting time - less than five hours.

You start at the top and knit down, increasing for the raglan sleeves as you go.  Then you set stitches aside for the sleeves and knit down the body.

You can adapt the stocking stitch to a textured stitch.

Once you have done the sleeves, you pick up for the front bands and collar, using wrap and turn short rows.  It's really easy and the collar sits beautifully.  I like to do the cast off row in a contrast, to look like the braid on a blazer.

Stitch on four buttons and you are done.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Gidday Baby

Gidday Baby is a very versatile pattern, designed by Georgie Hallam and available for free on Ravelry.  I've knitted it twenty-five times.  This is an early version, using an alternate stripe in the yoke. You start at the neckline and knit the yoke, then leave stitches for the sleeves and knit the body.  Once you have done the sleeves on dpns, all you have to do is stitch on the two buttons: there is no seaming.
This second version shows what can be done with a few scraps of a  novelty yarn with little flags of colour.  The mauve was from a cone left in the scrap bin at my knitting group and I used it double to give it some body.

If, however, you knit the yoke all in one colour, pattern can be used as borders.  One of these is knitted top-down, as usual, and the other from the bottom up.  You know that you have mastered a pattern when you can knit it upside down.

Here, the border comes below the yoke.  I thought that this was very successful, but in fact I was just using up the remainders of the two other little cardis.

A very different effect - but the same pattern.  The only problem here is the running in of all the ends.

Two contrasting versions - this is the back.

And a pretty one, again using scraps of variegated yarn.
It's a great pattern.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Wreay Church

Nothing we like better than a really unusual church, and this one is unique.  Built in the 1840s by Sarah Losh, it is a surprising thing to find deep in the Cumbrian countryside.

We were alerted to its existence by my elder sister who lives in Cumbria and had enjoyed a guided tour explaining some of the symbolism.

 We fitted it into our return journey from Sanquhar, as, in fact, it is South-East of Carlisle.

Sarah Losh was the daughter of a Cumbrian family who had made their money in industry.  She and her sister travelled on the Continent just after the Napoleonic wars.  She clearly gathered ideas while there, because, when the opportunity came to rebuild the parish church, she knew what she liked and it was an Italian basilica.  She drew up the designs herself. 

Everywhere throughout the building are symbolic carvings, not traditionally Christian symbols, but symbols of life and death and of eternity.  This wonderful font appears to have been designed and carved by Sarah herself.

Many of the images act as memorials to her sister, and to Major Thain, a family friend who died in the Afghan wars.

Outside, the unusual imagery continues.

Sarah added a replica of the famous Bewcastle Cross, a very early Anglo-Saxon cross from further north in Cumbria.



Wednesday, September 02, 2015


From the terrace of the Kirkstile Inn, near Loweswater, we have often looked up to Melbreak, a mountain which stands alone.  In fact, we were there on Monday, watching distant figures make their way up the steep ascent.

So, on Tuesday, this became our objective.  You park near the inn and walk along a little country lane lined with dry-stone walls.  Emerging from a fringe of forest, you see ahead the nature of the path which rises steeply.  It is loose scree - a mixture of small and medium sized stones spilling down the surface, with no solid foothold anywhere.  We resort to scrambling, using the tufts of heather to give some purchase.  Part way up, we are overtaken by a young runner who makes short work of the slope, both up and down.

Eventually we reach the first promontory, from which the views are spectacular.  Perhaps the difficulty of the ascent adds to the exhilaration we feel.  We press on to the summit. 

Near the top we meet a couple coming down where the man is helping his partner over every rocky step - helping her place her feet.  She walks along the regular path with her arms held out for balance.  We warn them of what is to come, but cannot imagine how she will deal with the scree.  We will never know. 

The descent, for us, takes us down the flank of Melbreak towards Mosedale.  Ahead, we can see Hen Comb, another top for another day.

Some more little hats, this time paired with stretchy gloves bought locally.

And, finally, a Gidday Baby cardigan with a little rainbow on the yoke.  This certainly brightens up the dull blue of the main yarn.