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.
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.