Thursday, May 28, 2009

28 May: Seasonal knitting

Made in this season, but for the winter - another double cap, this time for me, to go with my peacock scarf.

I began to knit a hat from a pattern in a book I got recently, Classic Knits, Marianne Isager Collection. I have her book Knitting out of Africa, and although I like many of the garments in that, I have never actually tried to make one. (More of an inspirational book)

But Classic Knits has several patterns I would like to make more or less as shown. So I started on a hat, but had to abandon it - in a couple of places the instructions did not tally with what was on the needles, or clearly shown in the photographs, but that was easily corrected. When, however, I had enough work done to start to see how it was coming together, I realised that the instructions as written resulted in one side of the hat having only two-thirds of the stitches that the other side had, just in the parts where the earflaps should go. Lost in translation from the Danish, perhaps?

Ah well, the garments in the pictures still look good, and I can probably copy them from the pictures (schematics are included, which is helpful) - I would have to make adaptations for using my handspun instead of the specified yarn, anyway.

The first one will be a jersey for DH. He liked one photographed in Classic Knits, though my version will be in 100% wool, not linen and cotton, probably not the same thickness either, and the shaping will be a bit different, and the stitch pattern will be another one to compensate for the different fibre - oh, and the edgings will be different. In fact, a jersey with very little in common with the original picture, but that's where we started.

Last week I spun a bag of humbug Shetland fibre, bought on our recent trip to Winghams, with a view to knitting a jersey for me, but it's a suitable colour for DH, so I'll use that. There's about 900 gms - will that be enough?

Monday, May 25, 2009

25 May: Ashes

Something which has been very noticeable this spring is how late the ash trees are with opening their leaves.

These 2 trees almost looked dead at first glance, but there are little leaflets appearing in tufts at the ends of the branches. The sycamores on each side, on the other hand, are in full leaf.

I've been trying to remember the rhyme - If the ash is before the oak, then be ready for a soak; if the oak's before the ash, then be ready for a splash (perhaps). Folk rain forecasting.

Could be a good summer.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

23 May: NGS

Today we succeeded in doing something I've wanted to do for ages, but somehow never achieved - we visited a garden open for the NGS, the National Garden Scheme.

It was interesting to see how the planting had been arranged, and how the rather difficult site had been used. Quite steep banks swoop down to a stream, and large trees stand in a group in the middle, shading the flatter part of the garden. On the other side of the house the bank has been made into a rock and gravel slope planted with alpines, and a lawn curves round to the little valley. Lots of unusual trees have been planted, and I was particularly checking out the shade planting for ideas to take home.

This colourful bed was in a walled area-

And these misty blue flowers, with a white birch behind them, were at the top of the bank down to the stream -

Other people's planting style is always different, and the plants chosen are always different from what you might choose, and this makes for fascinating viewing. We'll try to visit some more gardens over the summer.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

20 May: RSPB Saltholme

A short visit to the new RSPB place at Saltholme, down near the mouth of the Tees. It is all brand new, the car park, the Visitor Centre, the paths, hides, even the lakes appear newly scraped out of the bare earth.

As we arrived, the wind whipped across the marshes - gulls and swifts were sailing about above us. After a brief introduction in the centre, we explored the site. Near the Centre is a "wildlife garden" - not quite Chelsea, but pleasant.

This is a view of the Centre building from the garden, with some of Teesside's more usual architecture in the background -

The water feature/pond in the garden (inside the low wall) has a fountain in the middle -

And this is the seat where the last photo was taken from, showing the up-ended trees which line one side of the path -

They are real trees, though dead, uprooted, turned upside down, and replanted.

The rest of the area was less photogenic, being very bare and windswept (though DH took photos of the Transporter Bridge, and some ducks, with his superior camera and lens). We visited 2 of the hides and watched some of the birds (though I was more interested in the cows which appeared to be walking on the water at the other end of the lake), had coffee and cake in the nice cafe, which has excellent views of one lake, browsed round the shop, and plan to go again.

Monday, May 18, 2009

18 May: Short Wait

Here is that stranded hat -

It's called the Sand Ripple hat, because that's what the pattern is supposed to represent. It's all the usual fine handspun yarn, black Wensleydale and oatmeal BFL, of which there is a good supply in my stash.

Perhaps the next project should be something more colourful. Or perhaps I should knit a lizard..?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

16 May: Latest knitting

A very plain, jolly useful waistcoat -

-with pockets. It's made with 2 strands of yarn, one a soft and silky natural dark BFL, and the other a slightly rougher pale grey Suffolk (both handspun, of course); together they give a tweedy effect.

It's knitted in one piece, from the bottom edge upwards, then the pockets, neck edge, front bands, and armhole edgings knitted on afterwards. It seemed to take a long time to make, but it's only a few days over a month. It's probably all the thinking, measuring and calculating that seem to have taken a long time.

The button box had the perfect buttons for it - but only 3. Fortunately, it was fairly easy to find some very similar buttons in the market at Durham.

For a change, I haven't already got the next big project lined up, though there's a couple of small items on the needles - a stranded hat in a design of my own, and a scarf in an interesting double-sided stitch pattern. You can't wait to see them, can you?

Monday, May 11, 2009

11 May: Even more wildlife

It's a lizard shot, I'm afraid.

This little character, about 4 inches long including the tail, startled us by skittering across the track in front of us this afternoon, while we were walking in Hamsterley Forest. For some reptilian reason, it took cover in a big puddle on the track, with only its head above the surface. But at least it stayed still long enough to have its photo taken.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

10 May: More birds

This morning the street at the front of the house is a-swoop with house martins. It's wonderful to have a nest under the eaves, and to hear the burbling of the inhabitants. The only downside is the tremendous mess they drop underneath the nest, on the porch roof. And we've only just got the remainder of last year's mess cleaned off.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

9 May: Fledged!

The local pair of robins have successfully raised at least one youngster - it was foraging in our back garden yesterday evening, on its own, all round and bright and spotty - totally delightful!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

7 May: Tweedy Yarn

The recent trip to Wingham Wool Work boosted my stash of fibre - on Tuesday I started to spin some of it.

This was a batt of 90% wool and 10% other natural fibres, which has spun up into 410 gms of lovely chunky tweedy yarn.

No, I have no idea what (if anything) it might become.

Friday, May 01, 2009

1 May: LOL

No, really, I laughed out loud.

One of the pleasures of a live bookshop, as opposed to an online one, is the small treasures that fall serendipitously into your hand while you're trying to find a worthy tome on, say, Red Tape Concerning Buying a House Abroad.

Thus it was that I chanced upon Mike Parker's "Map Addict", and, being one myself, had to have it. Very readable, informative, and highly amusing; I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in maps.

I was slightly surprised to find that a man so hooked on maps seems never to have become obsessed by orienteering (then he'd know why people turn the map round to point in the same direction as they're going) - is it too late for him to discover the delights of not only the competition but also the hours spent afterwards tracing the exact route taken on the map, and comparing it with the route that should have been taken?

In fact, now my mind is focused on maps, I have only to pick up the map of the 1993 British Orienteering Championships at Brown Clee to remember the echo features, the awful moorland, the boggy bits where the next control was, naturally, over that nasty hill up there; and read my notes on the back, and see that I came 65th out of a class of 70 (rather unfit after a year on the sick).

And the album of photographs from the walking holiday in the Auvergne, with all the maps of the area tucked inside the cover, unfold the sheets, and remember the heat that had us moving from one patch of shade to the next, the spots where we stopped to eat our lunch on different days, the little chapel in the woods, the wonderful place we stayed in Orcival, the politeness of strangers on the train, exactly where I tripped and fell, lacerating both knees and blacking my eye...

Even the family history research is peppered with maps, both old ones of the places where forebears lived, and current ones, to see how it's all changed. Like the family tree charts themselves, it's all so much easier to follow on a map. One of my own earliest memories is of poring over a map of the Festival of Britain site.

Beside the computer here is a small pile of new maps, preparation for the next holiday. The position of the cottage has been pinpointed, the terrain examined, routes for walks and bike rides discussed. What memories, joys and disasters will attach themselves to these sheets?