Monthly Archives

March 2018

Handmade

Summer Rain {handmade}

16/03/2018

If ever there was a project named for the very opposite end of the season to the one in which it was finished it would be this shawl.  The final stitches were cast off as snowflakes peppered down against the windowpane in what should have been Spring and has in fact been deepest darkest winter. Again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every single flake of snow, celebrated and cherished each new weather forecast, and revelled in fully smothering every member of my family in handknits, but it was a funny old finale to a summer shawl.

This shawl is the smell of hot tarmac drenched in a thunderstorm, it’s rivulets of water droplets caught running down the windows by a light that promises that the squall will soon be over, and the silky feeling of damp grass around bare ankles.

The yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious, a delicious merino/silk blend that once upon a time I bought to knit one of my little ones, Elma I think, a pair of adorable knitted dungarees.  She grew, Pip never stayed the same size for more than a moment and as I sat in my deckchair in our camp away from home last summer reading my Taproot magazine I knew that when we eventually moved into our new house and the boxes came back out of storage I already had the perfect excuse to cast on a real treat of a project.

I’ve little but effusive praise for the yarn; it’s soft, silky without being too cold, and has a beautiful drape to it.  The colour is called Water but it’s more than mere water, it’s the colour of a wet slate roof in the evening sunshine, or the sea under baffled grey clouds, sometimes a faded hydrangea, sometimes steely grey depending on the light.  To knit with it was a joy and to wrap it around me is a pleasure.

The pattern is trickier.  I’m glad I knit it, I enjoy the finished object, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone else.  The first hitch is that it is not written particularly well; there were errors in the cast on and the chart pattern lacked any key, relying on the knitter to figure it out by process of elimination along the way.

I fudged the cast on count, fudged a few rows until the stitch count came good and figured it out.  Even then, the shape is a shawl that is very deep but not very wide.  I’m 6’0″ and it runs all the way down my back, but I feel I’m snatching at ends when I try to wrap it around my neck to be a scarf.  It works best as a sitting up in bed sort of shawl, the sort where you don’t exactly need anything around your neck but something across the shoulders just helps everything feel cosy, and so I’ve largely kept it on my bedside table as an extra layer on the coldest nights, and if summer does ever turn up it’ll be just the thing for evenings spent sat out in the garden.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

Handmade

Start Bay from Craigallian {handmade}

02/03/2018

It’s snowing outside. Tiny iridescent drops of snow, no bigger than a moment, flung violently through the air as they surf the storm that surrounds us.  This isn’t the Christmas card version of snow, all gentle floaty flakes that fall almost as if they might be in slow motion, but a driving winter fury that hurls its way into the gaps in our window frames, invidiously burrowing into the folds of my scarf and mittens as I walk through our village, marching its way in through the open carriage doors to land on heads and boots and books as we huddle into the train. It’s icy cold but it’s glorious too, there’s a rawness about it that reminds me of the winters of my childhood, when the gales would come racing in over the sea and set the chimney howling in sympathy.

I wore two jumpers today, one of which was hand knitted, and mittens, a scarf and a wooly hat pulled down low over my ears, and though my cheeks were snow blasted until they stung a bright rosy red, it’s felt a cosy sort of day; the perfect day to tell you about a hat.

It isn’t my hat, and far from being a new finish, it was actually off the needles and in the birthday post a month ago, but I have a little catching up to do so with a hat we shall start.

Craigallan is the first pattern of Kate Davies’ West Highland Way club, inspired by the path that runs near her home in Western Scotland.  It’s one of the ‘long walks’ like the Coast-to-Coast that stand as a challenge to a long distance walker, and, along with the Coast-to-Coast, something that is definitely on my list of “one day” adventures, which generally means when the children are big enough to walk it with us, any for now, thanks to their Christmas present to me, I’m more than happy to daydream my way along the route accompanied by gorgeous patterns, and Kate’s essays about the spots we’re passing.  They are all, without exception, absolutely gorgeous, and the biggest challenge to date has been trying to decide in what order I should be knitting them, but I started, at the beginning, with Craigallian.

Kate suggests four seasonal colour ways to show off her gorgeous new Milrocchy Tweed yarn, but as soon as she started to talk about the landscape that inspired the pattern, I knew that I needed to use the colours of the landscape that inspires me, and so the West Highland Way came to meet the South West Coast Path, large chunks of which I could all but walk in my sleep, and in particular, the colours of Start Bay.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

Right now I’m reliably informed that it has been buried in an unusual but fetching cloak of white, and the blown spray that makes white horses across the sea is matched by the plumes of powder that dance and swirl from the hilltops, but I choose the colours of warmer times, colours from long summer days when the pebbles grew almost too hot for your feet, and the most comfortable place was to be found lying in the shallows, letting each wave gently roll you ashore and tumble you back into the sea again.

The sea is there in sunshine and in shadow in Lochan (dark blue) and Ardlui (teal), and Smirr (pale grey-blue) is the crash of a wave as it bites into the beach, and the whipped wave caps of a summer storm.

For the shore, Buckthorn (burnt orange) is our tin-rich ‘pink mud’ flecked with slatey pebbles and Garth (green) is the deep green of a bracken frond fully unfurled and basking in the sunshine. The Milrocchy Tweed is a singles yarn, equivalent to a 4ply, so it makes for a lovely light hat, that is also incredibly snuggly and warm.

I love it, and I’m making a cardigan with echoes of the same colours because this one has gone south, all the way home as a birthday present for my Dad; we’re going walking in Pembrokeshire later in the year so it seemed an appropriate present, and I know that it will have been doing good service in the last few days.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On