Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Bartholomew's Tantalizing Socks completed

I first spied this yarn some time ago in Web of Wool. It is Super Soxx colour 630.0074. The colours bring together blues, green, browns etc., in a subtle pallet. Once again I've tried one of the patterns from Cat Bordhi's Book: New Pathways for Sock Knitters. The linen stitch and the sock structure were new to me, and I enjoyed knitting the pattern. I did need to have the book with me, so these socks were not quite the type of easy knitting to take around. I'm taking up my knitting friend Diane's suggestion of having some easy socks on the go, and I'm off shortly to choose something from the stash.

On the more tangy side of knitting I've started some Estonian Lace for the first time. The pattern was downloaded from Knitty and is called Laminaria. I spied the pattern knitted up in Web of Wool in Leamington, and with the light shining through, I was taken by the usual stitches.
I'm knitting this up in a Fuchsia coloured lace weight Hemp. I bought this yarn several years ago form The House of Hemp, at the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. House of Hemp had a stall at Wonder Wool, and seeing the prices there, I must have had the type of moment back in London, where I just feel in love with the whole Hemp concept and did not consider the price! The yarn is very comfortable against skin, and my 'Linda' cardigan is just the thing when I want a light covering during the summer.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Trellis Scarf by Evelyn Clark

I'm a great fan of Evelyn Clark. I have her Knitting Lace Triangles book. The first time I saw one of her scarves completed was when Judith, my knitting guru, from Swindon days, completed the Trellis Scarf published in Interweave Knits. I have finally got round to using some of my original yarn from Posh Yarn. I've had it about three years, and it came as one of the shawl club consignments. I think it is cashmere and silk, there was no band with it, and it is so soft and a beautiful pale almond green. I think it was this pattern which led me to subscribe to the magazine from the US.
When I came to cast off, I felt the end was not wavy enough, and took the scarf and pattern to Web of Wool in Leamington, and Anna helped out by suggesting a modification. Thanks Ann, what a generous gesture, I really appreciate her help.

This scarf, I knitted for Marie-Claire. The colour really suits her, and she just loves it. I took it round on Wednesday when I spent the day with her, passing on my marmalade making skills. In the middle of the exercise whilst I was sitting down cutting up the peel, MC rustled up a lovely lunch.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Summer Preserves

From what I hear on the Radio, we are being urged to use and enjoy local produce, not waste food, and be more community spirited.....well I have managed to to marry all these ideals almost at the same time:

In days gone by, when I grew loads of veggies, an important part of summer crops was finding outlets, and I enjoyed sharing produce with non gardeners. Then, I did not really have the time to make jams and chutneys as well. Now I am privileged to be on the receiving end, and am really grateful to receive phone calls which say ...please come and pick ....we have too much to use. I now have more time to use the produce, and enjoy giving some of the finished goods back to friends.

So a short cycle away usually less than a couple of miles, no carbon miles, I've picked red currants of which there is a bumper crop this year, and blackcurrants from friends gardens or allotments.
From way back I have a couple of paper backs which always come up trumps for ideas. Jane Griegson is excellent for many ways to use fruit, and my old Cordon Bleu book, although pages are now loose, is a mainstay, as well as a very old Good House Keeping Cookery Book.
The redcurrants were cooked stalks and all, and made an excellent jelly, but the blackcurrants had to be cleaned, sorted through and destalked. However now with a foot nearly out of action, and having to be rested, it is amazing what one can do on a tray on ones lap. I now realise that I spend most of my days on my feet, so instead I have been doing loads more knitting and embroidery.

I've even been invited to give lessons in making preserves. So maybe I shall be given some preserves in the future.
I've sent out SOS for jam jars, and have received some lovely shaped jars. I clean and sterilise and reuse the lids too! If it looks as if the lids have been used a couple of times, I revert to the wax disc and cellophane!

One of the perks of my volunteering at the Castle is that I am able to pick some of the superb mini strawberries which edge up some of the beds. The jam is just supberb, and is being saved for right royal occassions!

I just had to come up with a posh name for my posh strawberry jam, and being a french speaker, came up with Fraises Du Chateau Confiture. This pot is ready to give to Jean who bought me these lovely little pot covers. I've used preserving sugar with added pectin for the strawberries, to be sure to get a good set, but for the blackcurrant and other similar jams I use Tate & Lyle and find cane sugar better than beet.

Monday, 6 July 2009


The reason we picked that particular week for a holiday, and the Lake District, was that I wanted to go to Woolfest. I love wool, things knitted, things woolly and warm. I am also a keen supporter of British Wool and like the huge variety of sheep and their different types of wool. British Alpacas too since I just love the warmth of their wool.

A couple of years ago I went to Wonderwool in Wales, and this time it was to be the Lake District. I decided to go round without my dearly beloved, and he agreed that we would organise himself a day out on the trains around the coast.

I arrived early, and was about fourth in the queue, but we were soon allowed in. One of the first stalls I came across was one of my favourite British Yarn farmers and suppliers: Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop. I have a lovely jumper which I must have knitted about five years ago. The warmth and sheen of the yarn is superb, and it was not long before I spotted just what I wanted. I have the shade card at home, but it is so much nicer to see the yarn, and feel it in ones hands...but then chatting with the owner, my eye spied more things. On the stall there was a display garment, and it was closed with a shawl pin. I have been looking for one for ages, and was so excited, when I able to get one.

There were many other knitters, felters and spinners on their own, and when we sat down in the arena to watch and listed to a commentary on some rare sheep, there was also time to chat.

After my disappointment of not getting a throw whilst in Wales, I was very pleased to find Blacker Designs with a good choice.

The one which really caught my eye was made with a Jacob Sheep and Mohair Blend. The pattern is reminiscent of a slice of stone with cross section of fossils. I checked out all the other blankets and stalls and be really sure which one I wanted. The best thing is that Mr S also really likes it too.

Other items to add to my stash are various balls of Pure Dark Marl Jacob, Pure Black Welsh Mountain Wool, Pure Ryeland Wool, and Pure Lleyn Lamb's wool from The Natural Fibre Co. From other stalls I got Alpaca Sock Yarn, and Lace Weight Organically Framed Merino Woolspun from Fibre Harvest Ltd, Water Wheel spun at Coldharbour Mill. I wonder whether we might have a holiday some time near there?

One stall had some lovely metal embellishments. And whilst writing this blog, I just had to go check on which stall it was, and have also looked up Ruth Lee further. She is a lovely artist, and when we chatted, it was great to hear about her work and also that she used live in Coventry. I explained that I had seen her stall once at the Ali Palli show,and asked then whether she had considered shawl pins. How wonderful, that following that request, her partner took up my suggestion is now making them using metal from their old hot water tank. The shawl pins all vary, and I picked one, and was also pleased to hear that they had been a very good seller. I loved the shape of the pin on the one I chose which looked like a fancy Shepherd's crook.

I even spied this knitted clock, at the time my legs were starting to rest another rest!

I felt like it had been Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. My yarn stash runneth over! Now I can plan what knitting I'm to do over the coming months.

More of the Holiday in the Lake District

Now all the washing and ironing is done, and I've got those jobs takes going away and then coming home, for the eye to see the bits that need doing! I've had time to look over some pictures, and have thought again about just this one week. We did not enough time up in the Lake District, and we are already thinking about when we ought to go next!

On the way to our final resting point in the Lake District, we popped into Townend, in Troutbeck near Windermere. The interior was fascinating, and so wonderfully cool or such a hot and sunny day.

Over the road, the original barn and working part of the farm was still being used.

Close by are the Holehird Gardens. Julie, my fellow gardening Volunteer, suggested we visit these. After the drive, and two lovely places, David opted for a snooze in the car, whilst I enjoyed the wonderful array of interesting plants. I was a little too early to view the National Collection of Astilbes, however, the Hostas were superb, as were the very large rockeries, and beautifully tendered borders within the walled garden. Plants and Trees were well marked with names.

The apartment we had in the centre of Keswick had been formed from rooms in the original Royal Oak Hotel, so we had excellent proportioned rooms, with high ceilings and some views of mountains. The enjoyment we had on this holiday with Derwent Water, its surrounding mountains, walks, ferry etc., were easily comparable for us to our holidays on the Italian Lakes, without the long journey and plane flights.

After I got over the worst of my bruises from my cycle fall, our walks started with a gentle walk out to vantage point looking over Derwent Isle.

That was the last time we took our waterproofs with us. The rest of the week was very sunny and warm, and further walks took us along the further shore, using the ferry to take us to the southern end. We happened to have a wait to catch the Ferry back, and found a cool sheltered terrace to enjoy tea and scones and cake in the meantime.

Oh that we had more time, we may have got to the top of Skiddaw, instead, we went up Latrigg, where the views of Derwent Water were wonderful.

We stayed mainly in the area. A tour took us over the Honister Pass, along Gatesgarthdale Beck, where we stopped to look at the sheep, then on for lunch at Buttermere. After lunch we walked along the Lake and found a spot thick with orchids. Later we drove to the Coast, then back along the faster routes returning via the road running along Bassenthwaite Lake.

One of our days 'out' was a drive down Sizergh Castle. We both throughly enjoyed our day there. As the house did not open till one we first toured the garden. It gave us time to view the Castle from the outside, and enjoy the well laid out areas. I was specially delighted by the extensive collection of ferns, which were well labelled. On one side of the Castle, was an area planted with acers, small ferns and other interesting small plants, with small areas of water, all within the superb limestone rock garden.

On the way back for lunch, I spotted a lovely clump of plants, and had to return to take a picture, and ask at the shop if they had any pots of Stachys Macrantha for sale. Sadly they did not, but I did get three nice ferns, which will soon be planted in a shaded spot near the back of the garden.
The interior of the house had us entralled. The amount of very early wood panelling is exceptional. The rooms are beautifully furnished with exquisite pieces of furniture, and one can tell that they are still lived in. I enjoyed the many embroidered pieces.