Thursday, October 30, 2008

30 October: First frost

The garden was white with frost as I looked out over the breakfast washing up.

But alive with birds. Several coal tits were busy on the feeders, 2 or 3 blackbirds were getting aggressive round the frozen birdbaths, the usual dunnock (actually 2 of them this morning) in the border and on the path under the feeders, a couple of collared doves patrolling the paths, TWO robins (local robins are very shy, and normally on their own), a stray sparrow visiting the feeder, and most charming of all, a small flock of goldfinches!

They were first on the ground under the birch tree, then in the tree itself, all pecking busily at the bare twigs (what are they finding? the tits do the same), and one tried the apple tree, but soon returned to the birch. One came to the feeder, but didn't stay there.

So many little creatures, all simply going about their business - wonderful!

And still on the topic of the cold weather, I realised the other day that DH's normal hat is an old black acrylic watch cap he bought years ago from the Scout and Guide Shop. He has a nice thick Shetland hat (hand spun, dyed, and knitted) in a blue and grey fractal design, but says it is too warm for ordinary use.

A challenge - no self-respecting spinner/knitter can have their spouse favouring something not hand-spun and hand-knitted, so a replacement has been made.

The old hat is a double cap - an old design, popular in Scandinavia, where one layer folds inside the other to give a double thickness.

This is a simple but effective design, and not wishing to make it too warm, I decided to use fine yarn. And there is plenty of black Wensleydale (dark brown in reality), which will make a nice sober cap. But what about the other half, should that be terribly sober too? How about some colour? There are several balls of variegated BFL in different colours - how about combining them in one-row stripes like the recent odd socks?

So, here it is -

The more sober side -

And the more colourful side -

And of course either side can have the bottom edge turned up to provide a contrasting brim. "To suit your mood", as they used to say.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

29 October: Wednesday Walk 2

Happy Birthday DGS 1!

This week's walk was another favourite, on the Northumberland coast, from Craster to Low Newton, pub lunch, and back. It was a beautiful clear sunny day, though those woolly hats were needed again.

The sea sparkled correctly, the waves had nice white tops, and the sand was wide and emptier the further we walked from the pub.

In places various types of seaweed had been cast up by the tide; this colourful tangle of weed lay on an interesting sand pattern -

Dunstanburgh Castle was a popular place for many people to visit on a sunny autumn afternoon. There were lots of people enjoying the fresh sea air, and many photographs taken -

We returned to tea and our first slice of Christmas cake this season.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

22 October: Wednesday Walk 1

An overcast day. The clouds were clinging to the Pennines, and the wind was coming from the South West. (It normally comes from the West, but this year has not been normal - the wind has blown from the East for days at a time, and from the North too.)

Chilly in the wind, where we were glad of our woolly hats, but warmer in the shelter of the trees further on.

This field was harvested only last week. The wheat didn't look too good to the non-farming eye, but the grain-dryers are going full blast in the local farmyards, so the crop must be worth at least the cost of the diesel for the machines.

After the agricultural section of the walk is the "industrial heritage" part.

Dr. Beeching and his pruning of the railway network have been topical recently; as there were hundreds of mines in County Durham, there were hundreds of railways and little wagon ways to move the coal on its journey to the fires and furnaces of homes and industry. As a result, we are now blessed with lots of "dismtd rly" on our local maps. Even when the tracks are no longer marked as old railway lines, the cuttings and embankments tell their tale.

There is a chance of fruit on this walk, as there are sloe and hazel trees along the lane, and brambles galore in the hedges. At one particularly good spot by the old railway track, within 10 yards you can pick as many blackberries as you can carry home. In a good year - which this wasn't.

A variety of trees are maturing on each side of the track. The ash tree has already shed nearly all its leaves -

while the oak is only just beginning to change colour. Next year's buds are ready and waiting -

And then we come to the birches - beautiful at any time of the year -

That walk is a regular favourite. Where will next week's walk go?

Monday, October 20, 2008

20 October: Low boredom threshold

It must be the time of year; getting restless, and wanting to find a new project.

There's plenty of knitting to explore, and that's ongoing, and there's Ravelry to amuse, and now Flickr as well, but I'm thinking about starting on something else.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

12 October: Stressful week, and another string bag

DH's cat had an operation on Tuesday, to remove a greatly enlarged thyroid gland. In the event, both thyroids were removed.

So I've spent a lot of time this week rounding him up, transporting him to the vets' different offices several times, cooking fish (ugh!) for him, and generally fussing him. More to come next week, when he has the stitches out.

And as soon as DH comes home, the cat totally ignores me, and attaches himself to his preferred human.

But there's been time for knitting. The little peacock coloured scarf is finished, and is drying after being spread out.

The green and black key pattern waistcoat is finally finished. It stretched a lot when wet, so it now fits -

I've cast on a Danish shawl, to use these yarns -

And this morning, finding my odds and ends pouch was a bit overcrowded, I crocheted a mini string bag -

which will be a home for the little tins of stitch markers, and such of my 3 row counter clickers as are not in use at any time.

It's about 4 inches high and the same across, made from some yarn I made from a 2-ply handspun bamboo yarn, cabled together with a cotton yarn I bought ages ago from Texere, at one of the stitching shows in Harrogate. Part of that hybrid yarn went into a face-cloth, which is used all the time, and now there's only a little left.

Monday, October 06, 2008

6 October: Insulation

Here's the small scarf-shawl I cast on a few days ago -

The yarn is about 18 w.p.i., spun from some BFL I dyed last November. I like the way the stripes blur as the rows get longer.

This is intended as a scarf more than a shawl, though I'm using a standard shawl shape. As the yarn is quite attention-grabbing by itself, I thought I'd use a fairly simple stitch pattern, so chose Garter Lace. But it's still fairly difficult to keep the right number of stitches on the needle - I keep forgetting the odd "yarn over". So not exactly TV knitting, as it needs a little concentration.

It promises to be a soft and cosy way to keep my neck warm now the chilly winds are coming in off the North Sea. This year we've had more east winds than in any of the past 6 years - is this the way climate change is working?

Sunday, October 05, 2008

5 October: Shawl

The shawl was washed and spread out to dry, not stretched and pinned. That seemed cruel to nice soft wool.

Here it is on a hanger -

And on a very un-Twiggy-like model -

It's interesting, but I'm not likely to wear it. And it didn't reduce the yarn stash much, either, as it weighs just under 10 ounces.

I'm trying out a different shape, a triangle starting in the middle of the long side, to make a more scarf-like item, working in the Garter Lace stitch pattern from Martha Waterman's excellent "Traditional knitted lace shawls". I'm using some BFL that I dyed last November - pieces of fibre dyed in charcoal, violet, jade, hyacinth and turquoise, then the colours spun in sequence. For some reason it's not easy to keep the number of stitches right, and it certainly needs concentration. There might be a photo soon.