Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Lakes

and a pair of Stripy boy socks.

I've finally finished processing all the photos that we took on holiday and I tried, I really tried not to make this post a complete photo splat. It is anyway. We all knew that was always going to be the case. If you have a really slow internet I'm truly truly sorry and I send you calming thoughts and suggest you go and look for a fairy cake or something to take the edge off.

A little while ago, H had asked me for some more 'work-appropriate' socks and so duly authorised to go wild in Anna's magical emporium of yarn and general fibery goodness I tried, I really tried to pick calm, neutral colours, ... and came home with a new arrival, Knitcol Trends in the excitingly named colour 053. It's a DK weight yarn and before we had left I'd knit up the first sock. The second sock was tucked into the bag for knitting on the move and it really came into its own when we arrived in the Lakes.

Lake Windemere, heading north from Lakeside (the very bottom of the lake)
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As a plain vanilla sock I could knit with my fingers and watch the beautiful scenery with my eyes so it was a perfect combination, not even marred when I dropped the tail end of a ball of yarn in a still damp gutter around the edge of the boat!

The steamer goes from Lakeside to Bowness-on-Windemere, from Bowness to Ambleside and then reverses the journey and you can stop off as often as you like along the way. We were on one of the later steamers so went all the way up to Ambleside for a quick stop off, and then all the way back.

By the time we reached Bowness on the way back the sock had grown!

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(you can see the pier in the background).

I'd done all but the Kitchener by the time we docked in Lakeside and H snuggled into them the same evening as he read extracts of the Wainwright guides while I cooked supper. I think they were a hit.

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They've been through the wash two or three times since and are much loved.

I think this yarn would also make fabulous baby surprise jackets - I'll have to remember it for the next baby boom.

As these are DK socks and the husband has man-sized feet I took a good dip into a third ball of yarn. These are knit on 3.25mm needles, over 56sts with long cuffs so if you had more delicate feet I think you should be able to get a pair out of two 50g balls but don't quote me on it!

So, the Lakes ...... after three days exploring we were loath to leave and entertained serious plans of selling up, moving to Cumbria and running a cake shop with ice-cream on the side (a daydream usually reserved for the Western Isles of Scotland). Wherever it is, one thing I know, my dream house is in the middle of nowhere!

Our first day was the steamer trip, a gorgeous sunny day, warm and soft with just a sniff of curling leaves.

Lakes 1
From the top left; the Swan approaches Lakeside, looking up the lake, the hills behind Coniston, a yacht off the approach to Bowness, the Teal (our steamer from Ambleside to Bowness on the return trip), and my favourite, a Swallows and Amazon-esque dinghy crewed to the gunwales, tacking laboriously by Belle Isle (just opposite Bowness).

Lakes 2
Bowness pier, islands off Bowness looking north, the top of the lake reveals itself, yachts and mountains, Bowness boat dock, and more yachts.

The building behind the rowing boats is the hotel that we stayed in when we stopped over in the Lakes in July, with a room looking out onto the lake. The hotel itself has a wonderful lounge full of old fashioned comfy sofas and wing-backed arm chairs, perfect for curling up into and watching the sun set into the mountains.
Lakes 3
Another Swallows and Amazons dinghy, hills to the north west, Ambleside (the lake part of it, the village is a good 15 minute walk away but well worth it for the mint choc chip ice-cream), perfect September sky, hills above Ambleside, and a very Beckfoot boathouse.
Lakes 4
As we travelled back on the boat the sun started to sink, casting the ridge between Coniston and Windermere into deep shadow and pointing a long sparkly finger of light at us across the water. A twilight boat trip on the lake with the Tern almost deserted - we had the entire quarter-deck to ourselves to look back at the hills.

If day 1 was about water (and ice-cream), day 2 was for mountains (and Kendal mint-cake), and one mountain to be precise.

The Old Man of Coniston; Kachenjunga to the residents of Swallowdale, or the Matterhorn to their olders and betters. This is quite some mountain - looming 803 metres above the little village of Coniston like a gentle giant - big and beautiful

Lakes 5

These are all views of the way up the mountain, and the way down again! We went up the quarry route, although not the path most trodden, we detoured via the quarry road and the track to the Youth Hostel for pretty views of the valleys, and picked up the main path as it headed up past the slate mines.

When you arrive at the ruins of the mine buildings and clamber over the neverending piles of slate, it's staggering to consider that mine workers climbed up here every day, and then started work. It's a level of fitness that I can only aspire to.

Climbing this route gives you the chance to stop for lunch at Low Water, a deeply ironic name for the puddle that you can see in the middle picture, which is at all of 600 metres elevation, if not more. That central picture is taken from the summit, after a zig zag ascent of an insanely steep face. That cream line in the photo, that would be the path! It's a case of take a few steps and pause, take a few steps and pause, all the way up.

I know there were some fellow mountaineers who zoomed past me, head down, legs pumping, but I'm not going up to the top without spending every second looking at the view so it's a tortoise's life for me. I teamed up with a couple of fellow tortoises and we all got to the top in the end!

We came down a slightly gentler route, with views out across Coniston to the south and some very crazy sheep perched precariously on the furthest possible edge of every outcrop and I loved every minute of it (unlike my heels which are only just recovering!)

As a finale to Day 2 I present the following photos which I think provide an accurate sliding scale of the exertion required to climb a mountain:

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Exhibit A: Carie, pale as only an office slave can be, at the bottom of the climb with a lovely view of the mines in the background.
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Half way up - distinctly pinker! These are the heaps of leftover slate that cover this side of the mountain, making climbing all the steeper.
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Pink pink pink - at Low Water eating lunch. I am a glowing beacon of hot hillwalker, and I match my hat!

I don't have a picture of me at the top - too many flying ants to want to linger long enough for a photo.
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Back at the edge of Coniston with VERY tired feet and an expression that can only be translated as 'please take me home and pop me into a nice warm bath with lots of bubbles'.

I'm told that it's usually a good idea to leave a day between one mountain and the next and it's definitely a good idea not to walk on your blisters but when you only have a few days ..... well we went for another walk.

On our final day we headed into the woolly wilds of the western Lakes, driving up alongside Wastwater with the original intention of trying for Great Gable. With the vast numbers of hikers out and about on a very lovely Saturday it wasn't exactly quiet but the valley walk is magnificent in the way that only a wide open space far away from hustle and bustle can be. It was awe inspiring
Lakes 6

We missed the path that I had wanted to take to Great Gable and ended up on a slightly lower route that went first to Styhead Tarn and then up whichever flavour of mountain you fancied, and when we got there we decided that actually for us, this was enough. So we didn't go to the top of Great Gable, we looked at it in the sunshine, and the little orange worker ant sized people slowly creeping up the face, and lay back and basked on our little rocky outcrop; people watching the fell runners, the families on a day out, people being pulled by dogs, tired dogs peeking out of a rucksack pocket.

We climbed a little higher in a different direction, searching for a new view and hiked as far as Sprinkling Tarn, which is teeming with very tiny fish, and then we turned around and headed back down a different valley path, cutting down to the river much earlier in the route and running along side it for the rest of the way home.

If you've coped with the pictures so far I have two more for you.
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This is the sunset from our holiday cottage the day we climbed the Old Man of Coniston; radiant and glorious, we sat in the window seat watching it for ages.

And last, but by no means least, H, bringing a new interpretation to the phrase 'a little muddy'
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Rather than detour round a very damp and peaty bog (like someone else did), the boy decided that he could leap it. The run up went well, the first foot sank more than he expected, the back foot pushed off to compensate and started to slide. In a balletic tumble he flipped onto his side, rolled right over his back and bounded up, moss clinging. It was the funniest thing I'd seen in years!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

It's been HOW long?!

Hello blog - remember me? Lanky girl, slightly dippy at times, knits a LOT, pretends she can do other things too?

Yes? See I knew it would all come flooding back!

I think I last updated at the beginning of September. Actually I think the last time I noticed the date it was the beginning of September. The little man who lives in my computer and flicks the time and date over, who I have generally found to be reliable, informs me that today is the 27th of September. If anyone finds the last few weeks floating around in the ether I would be most grateful if they would return them to me; I suspect a conspiracy somehow involving the international date line and perhaps a super strong gravitational pull exerted by the International Space Station to make the earth turn faster. (Mary, is that worthy of your colleague!?)

So what really happened - well it was the beginning of September, and I had three days off work. We went to the wedding of my chief bridesmaid in York on a peerless hot and sunny day. The bride wore purple, the guests were a select bunch but great fun, and the groom, who I hadn't met before, was (as expected) a really lovely guy and a perfect match for my dear friend E.

E and I shared a house together in London; I moved north for my job and to be in the same county as H and she moved even further north after she found herself only a few trains behind the Edgware Road train on July 7th. I don't see anything like enough of her and it was lovely to catch up. She has also been through some of the not so great things that I've been through in the last year and we're both kicking ourselves for not sharing sooner.

After that we headed west to the furthest edges of the Lake District for a four day weekend which was wonderful. We climbed mountains, went on lakes, saw sheep trying to jump off mountains and ate Kendal mint cake in its proper setting. I (still) have a gazillion unprocessed photos from that trip so I'm saving those stories for another day!

While I took those three brief days off work, work, as is its want, had a little explosion and the Monday I got back to work I arrived at 8am and left on Tuesday! And I think that's where I've been ever since. The down time I have had has mostly been spent catching up on housework and convincing my husband that I am a real girl and not just a figment of his imagination that flits into being between 6.30 and 7.00 every morning.

Life is a little quieter now and I have a lot of catching up to do so if you get a comment from me that seems horrifically behind the times, mea culpa!

I took some pictures at the beginning of the month and even loaded them into flickr and onto the blog page, but alas, no words and no pushing of the publish button. So here, without further ado, is the tip of the iceberg!

First up, I've been quilting:

September 020
This started out life as a Hoffman fabric Bali Pop (their version of a jelly roll), in Mint Choc Chip, to which I added a lot of my favourite burnt orange. I hinted at the quilt in my last post, these are all of the blocks piled up and waiting to be sewn together.

September 002
Progress made - not much. I did lay them all out and decide the order and I have sewn four of the twelve horizontal lines and sewn the four together. I love the way it looks, I just have to finish sewing up the lines and then think about borders, backing, the quilting itself and the binding. Look for it to be finished in 2020!

Embracing autumn (shortly before a long weekend that was distinctly summer), and by autumn I mean that orange, I also finished another pair of socks, this time for me.

H and I avoid matchy matchy socks, no matter how much we both like the same yarn, it's just too his 'n hers cabled arans, dripping into each other's eyes over a heathery backdrop for us. I made Nancy Bush's Spey Valley socks, for H for last Christmas in Misti Alpaca sock yarn and he loves them.

So, well, one thing led to another, the Misti Alpaca yarn fell out of the cupboard, I really didn't mean for us to have matching socks, but before I knew it I'd cast on for another pair of Spey Valley socks:
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Ooops. Perhaps if we don't wear them together no-one will ever know. Apart from you of course. Shh, don't tell.

I am a very very big fan of this yarn, it's soft and lovely and fluffy and completely justifies its handwash only status.
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It also glows with every colour I love - what's not to like about toasty feet for the winter!
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Friday, September 04, 2009

Now you see it, now you don't

The magical disappearing act of Carie, the blog posting and rather a lot of repetitive knitting!

Where do we start? Well how about with the discovery that two 24 hour periods of nursing a sick husband (I'd call them days, but days don't tend to involve trips to the 24 hour Tescos at the kind of hours in the morning where you're the only customer) is not the best preparation for falling foul of the tail end of the same bug on a day when you really needed to go to work, went to work, failed to complete the work that you really needed to do, and travelled home lying on the floor of the train because being upright was more than you could handle - fun times!

I have a feeling that both my mother and Beth may be telephoning me as they read this to tell me off for being an idiot - I always come unstuck when H is too unwell to countermand my over-active protestant work ethic. I think I'm back to normal (ish) now, so lets just hope it holds out. One thing I know is that I'm desperately tired and so is the boy - he even let me drive today which is a thing that never ever happens unless he has a broken hand or is on some sort of medication that forbid the use of heavy machinery - it's going to be early nights all round for a few days yet.

So, the knitting. Now you see it:

August 379

and then I ripped it all out again. It is/was the start of Ysolda Teague's Hap Blanket from Whimsical Little Knits 1 (NB there's a book 2 coming out and it's awesome!) but my main yarn was too light an aran weight so I wasn't getting gauge even with 8mm needles and the fabric was too small and too loose. So, it all came out, I'm using 7mm needles and I added a few stitches to the cast on - I'll fudge the edging somehow and end up with a blanket that tucks round me which is what really matters in the long run.

In the meantime, I've been putting some hours in at the sewing machine; can you tell the leaves are turning by the fact that I've been temporarily distracted from socks by the need to make more blankets and quilts.

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This is a Hoffman batik Bali Pop in Mint Choc Chip which, together with a metre and a half of my favourite orange came home from the NEC quilt show. It doesn't match the colour scheme of any of the rooms in my house and I love it unreservedly.

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With the orange mixed in it's very autumnal - everything tinged at the edges with bronze.

I'm using a pattern from the book Jelly Roll Quilts, called Sparkling Gemstones; this might just be Sparkling Leaves - welcome to September.