Friday, November 28, 2008

28 November: Well laid plans

Oops - that jersey is going to have to wait.

I've been asked for some knitting for Christmas presents - last posting will be about a week before the 25th - and I need to write the pattern!

So why am I sitting here instead of knitting? Well, one has to eat sometime.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

26 November: ABC Wednesday - S

So, it seems suitable to join ABC Wednesday on the letter S. Specially since there's been snow and, as I'm scared of slipping, there's been singularly little walking.

There are several subjects for S - some socks are currently on the needles -

And I've just finished a Danish-style shawl -

In this cold weather, I've been doing quite a lot of spinning - Here are some of the many recent skeins -

The tweedy grey (right front) is a wool/silk mix, the blue-purple is a merino/silk mix, and the grey and black at the back are Shetland. I have 500 gms each of the purple and the grey Shetland, and 810 gms of the tweedy stuff; so far, I've only spun about 300 gms of the kilo of black Shetland.

Some of the Shetland, along with some skeins soon to be dyed in subtle or sensational colours, is destined for a stranded sweater presently in the design stage (i.e. scribbled notes in my sketch-book). It will be steeked and Scandinavian-influenced; it may also be snazzy, splendid, stunning, or even sensational. We shall have to wait and see.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

19 November: Wednesday Walk 5

Earlier in the year I demonstrated spinning at an event at Durham Wildlife Trust's Rainton Meadows. Busy all day, I didn't have a chance then to explore the place; so a return visit was well overdue.

This sculpture has some connection with the Great North Forest, and seems to have been designed by William Pym. It is in danger of being totally engulfed by the surrounding willow growth, which is flourishing in the marshy ground.

Beyond the sculpture, at the end of that path is a lake, complete with swan.

Much of the area is still getting established, with newish tree planting. There are several ponds or lakes, but there seems to be no public access to most of them. One bird-watching hide is unfinished, another appears to have been vandalised already - the seats are missing. Signs mark some of the surfaced paths as part of the Coalfield Way.

A large number of geese were circling overhead, honking loudly; one group detached itself and flew off northwards. There was a group of a dozen or so lapwings on one pond - the most I've seen together in one place for a while.

The area round Joe's Pond seems much more established, with older trees and scrub surrounding it and providing shelter. It seems popular with ducks and swans, who leave their feathers all over the place -

And they must be fed by some of the visitors, as a number of them rushed across and started squabbling.

No crumbs today, perhaps next time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

12 November: Wednesday Walk 4

An appointment with the dental hygienist took me into Durham. I used the Park and Ride, but walked back to the car. On the way, I explored some of the vennels, paths, and covered ways in the city. One vennel and one path I had never been along before.

The river was swirling around the piers of Elvet Bridge.

These steps invited exploration; further up I had to clamber over drifts of pizza and lager rubbish.

At Palace Green, the cathedral was dramatic.

A bike had been left in just the right place to enliven this view.

This vennel may be covered and have doors, but the wind still whips through it.

Finally this recently discovered path offered an alternative route up the hill.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

9 November: Latest handspun yarn

Here's the skein of yarn spun on Friday. It's so big it took till this morning to dry properly. It's about 16 w.p.i., and weighs 124 gms.

Perhaps the colour's too subtle for my photographic "skills".

Friday, November 07, 2008

7 November: The knitting (and spinning) goes on

The cold snap sent me looking for my hot water bottle. It came with a very thick fleece cover, which actually prevented any of the heat escaping from the hottie and warming my toes.

So I knitted a new one -

A good project - I learned to knit backwards in order to make the short-row bumps.

And at last I succeeded in making a felted hat. Two earlier attempts resulted in items that would fit a grapefruit rather than a human head.

Before felting, it was large and floppy -

And after a 60 degree cotton programme wash in the machine it was thick, fuzzy and warm -

Sadly, after all that, it doesn't suit me.

Today I began to spin some fibre I bought at the Woolfest back in the summer (sorry, "summer"). It was labelled 'Carded Batt, wool/silk, 800 gms', and was such an interesting colour that I seized it at once. Mostly grey, there were flashes of blue, green and red in it.

This morning I took the batt out of its bag and spread it out. There seemed to be a mountain of fibre. The colour streaks went lengthways, and if I divided it lengthways, the different colours might be separated into different skeins, and I thought it better to divide it so that they would be more evenly distributed among the eventual skeins of yarn.

I started to spin the first bundle. Full of nepps, the silk rather unevenly distibuted, and not at all like the usual smooth roving or tops that I usually spin. But it was easy enough to feed into a twist, and the little lumps and bumps and colour changes make it look very tweedy. This evening I have 2 bobbins full, ready to ply. In fact, I need to see how it turns out, so I'll go and ply it.

Perhaps a picture tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

5 November: Wednesday Walk 3

There are many tracks and paths in Hamsterley Forest, some more frequently walked than others. It's always fascinating to venture down one that's been seen before, but not followed.

This one led to a lovely spot by a stream junction, with a bench -

which gives this view of the stream, with photogenic overhanging beech -

Beech trees are spectacular just now (as indeed they always are); this wonderful one was near the main track at the top of a bank -

Further on, the view opened out to the moorland beyond the forest, and there was even a touch of blue in the sky -

It was quiet, even on the major tracks. A handful of runners and rather more mountain bikers, but very few other walkers. Just as well, or they'd have heard an animated discussion on whether there was anything after Number One - The Larch.