Monday, 2 March 2015

MUD.

My impatience and wishful thinking for springtime got the better of me the other day.  

I got inspired to try a new trail, put my pretty new boots on and took the Piccadilly Line to the very last stop.  


The London LOOP trail- London Outer Orbital Path- is 150 miles of trails that takes a walker around the outer suburbs of London, mostly through green spaces and parks.  It's broken down into 24 easy-to-reach sections with train and tube stations as your start and end points.  How nice is that?


Most people who fly into Heathrow end up taking the Piccadilly line towards Cockfosters, so it's the train that everyone knows (and giggles at the name) as soon as they get to London.  However, taking the tube out there was quite nice as we ended up having the entire train car to ourselves for most of the trip and celebrated this rare occurrence by singing and dancing loudly and erratically.  


Down the muddy lanes, we took off- the trail is right outside the tube station- and it soon became apparent that even on a nice winter day, it was still winter out.


The mud, the mud, the mud.  It made the going awful.  Despite the way being fairly flat, every step was a slippery mess, and sometimes so sloppy walking became treacherous.


It wasn't long until I had mud coming up over my socks and most of the way to me knees.  This was exhausting work.

Still, we did 10 miles, and it felt more like 20.  The sticky clay mud weighed us down, and later, it took me hours to get the boots cleaned off.



While parts of the trail were kind of pretty- much of it went through small stretches of forest, parkland and farm fields- I found myself terribly bored after just a few miles and ready to be done already.





From a hill in Enfield, the city punctured the horizon.

We were so tired and cold and exhausted at the end, we canceled our dinner plans and curled up on the sofa with Netflix and hot soup for the night.

The trail was understandably quiet- we only passed two other couples on the trail all day.  What, no one wants to join us in cold slogging misery?  Until the springtime winds and sun dry up the bogs a bit, I think I'll not do this again any time soon.  Yes, I have a big walk planned in a month and I want to get the boots broken in and not die on the first 16 mile stretch, but I think I'll stick to the pavement for a bit.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Unravled

My local knitting group was planning a roadtrip to a Unravled, a fibre-themed shopping weekend in nearby Farnham.  I dragged my heels....I don't need more yarn!....but hanging out with the ladies and chatting with the vendors and petting yarn is always fun, so eventually I relented.

Rather fortuitously, I lost my debit card a few days before the festival.  Between Sainsbury's and home it jumped ship, never to be seen again.  What luck!  Now I can't buy anything!   I don't think I'd ever been so giddy about waiting 4 days to get my bank card replaced.  I'd also like to take this opportunity to tell the world about the suckfest that is HSBC banking, as eventually, they sent me a card but it was a copy of the canceled one, so when I activated it and tried to use it, it was rejected and flagged as someone trying to use a stolen card.  How was I allowed to even activate that?  And when they sent me a proper new card, the chip malfunctions so I can't actually use it to pay for things in real life.  I guess when you are spending all your time helping the ultra wealthy avoid paying their taxes, you don't have a lot of time for the pleebs and their filthy issues.  


Anyway.  Unraveled.  With a car load of knitters giddy with potential purchase power, we headed to the 'burbs to Farnham Maltings, a lovely arts centre.  If I lived in Farnham, I would be here all the time- they seem to have loads of interesting events  and films.


The halls were pleasantly packed with really quality vendors of all types.




As kind of a cute thing, they had tags that people could write why they knit, and they hung them all over the place.  Unfortunately, the first one my friend and I saw said this:


Christ on a bike, really?  Also, lots of people wrote "so I don't kill people", and to see that handwritten made it seem like a threat and had us watching each others' backs for the afternoon.




There were lots of local indie yarn sellers- some had cult followings, and almost all of them were new to me.


I managed to snag a few carefully selected and fawned over skeins (and still have enough to get by for the week while I wait for my debt card to arrive) but I saw so much that I thought should come home with me.  Yarn is the new puppy dogs.


I have to explain when I say "retail therapy", I generally don't mean shoes and bags and frocks, but the raw materials to make socks and bags and frocks.  It's totally different.


But ah, the colors, the wool, the parade of knitwear fashion going by.  It was lovely to get out.  A perfect antidote for the February blahs (and appropriately, it was pouring rain out), a bit of retail therapy and a chatty good time.



Thursday, 26 February 2015

A Quilt Named Patchy

An impending disaster?

Perhaps.

I have a nasty fat quarter habit.  Any time I see a bright and lovely bit of luxe cotton fabric packaged neatly with other bits of coordinating fabric, it comes home with me.  While I usually have enough for small projects- bags and throw pillow covers- I decided to go whole-hog and make a quilt.


I haven't quilted before, but I think I understand the theory.  Or, perhaps, ignorance is bliss.

I found some Rowan and Amy Butler fabric on sale recently and pounced on the bin. I had a rough idea of a pattern and decided to go with blues and greens- vibrant and lovely- and matched it with some other scraps from Kensington and Liberty that I've been saving up from various projects and clearance sales.  I had decided that I didn't want anything too matchy-matchy or geometric.  This thing would be all over the place (the better to hide mistakes!).


A couple of books and youtube videos later and I had cut the pieces and laid it out-  I found a pattern from Amy Butler's book "In Stitches" that I followed roughly for the quilt top.  I had to patch together some scraps to make all the pieces fit, as this pattern called for bigger chunks of fabric and I had mostly fat quarters to work with.  Hopefully this will be my summer blanket, as I don't have one and last summer I just used the duvet cover sans duvet as a blanket.  How uncivilized!

Most people who quilt seriously seem to have a "quilt wall"- a tacky bit of fabric on the wall where they can arrange their pieces, stand back and admire it and arrange the squares as needed.  I slummed it and used the bed.


Everything is pieced together, and I've pinned some more scraps on top as overlays.  I've ordered some cotton wadding and found a big 4.5 meter piece of contrasting fabric (on sale!) for the quilt back and edging.  Once I get the wadding, the whole thing will be sandwiched together and quilted on my standard Singer.  Somehow, I'll make this work even though I don't have a special "long arm" machine that would allow more fabric to be rolled up and fed through the machine.


This is TBC....it might be the lumpiest and most unsightly quilt ever, but I won't know until I give it a try.   The suspense is killing me.  

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

FO: Noble Cowl

A quick but luxurious little lace cowl....


It's the yarn that makes it.  A luxurious, brilliantly dyed (yet sadly discontinued) skein of Schaefer Yarn Helene, a super soft and shiny single comprised of merino and silk.  Heavenly.  Cuddle it close and never let it go.  


 The colors are brilliant- reds, pinks, peaches.  Reds are the toughest color to photograph, so I feel like this really doesn't do the subtleties in tones justice.

Originally, this was going to be for a friend "in the know", who would totally notice that I failed to make a gauge swatch before beginning, running out of yarn before I could finish the last lace repeat and unceremoniously cast off the cowl failing to make a full repeat.  Chop chop!  Should have gone down a needle size.  It still looks just fine....I wasn't about to rip the whole thing back or anything.  My solution was simpler:  simply gift it to someone less likely to notice who doesn't read my blog.  Genius, I am.


The pattern is called the Noble Cowl, and it is free.  It makes for a lovely gift and only took me a couple days to whip up.




Monday, 23 February 2015

FO: Athena Sweater

A quick summer pullover.  Completely nonsensical and unseasonable.  Yup.  That's what I think I'll knit.

I needed a quick break from my current projects, this yarn was annoying me with all the space it was taking up in my stash bin, and a week later I had a very 80's beachy pullover.


 I kind of felt for a beach day, so I created a beach cover-up.  Too bad I twirled around once and had ENOUGH ALREADY of being out in the cold with this on.  Not that it was a terribly cold day, but just not t-shirt weather.  

I don't think it's the most flattering thing I've ever knit, and due to its construction, it's kind of hard to alter.  You knit it from sleeve to sleeve, with the ribbing added later.  So- no waist shaping, no option to shorten of lengthen.  As it is, I made the smallest size the pattern offered up, and it is quite big.  I mean, it's supposed to have some ease, but batwings are in, right?  RIGHT?



 Ultimately, I think it will pair with a bathing suit and a sarong quite nicely, and naturally, some sort of perfectly icy spiked drink in a red cup.


 Also, I'll be perfectly tan, but not unhealthily so.

Wishful thinking, this is.  But alas!  The end of February is in sight.

The pattern is Athena from the Rowan All Seasons Chunky collection.  It used 6 skeins of the aforementioned All Seasons Chunky in the color Dune- it's a weird, highly twisted ropy cotton that makes for instant gratification and nearly impossible seems.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

A Smug I Spy...

Sorry for the absolutely atrocious photo quality here, but I totally saw daffodils in bloom yesterday.   

























Winter will probably rain down like hellfire now that I've posted that.

Maybe it was luck, but winter was really anticlimactic here.  The worst part of it was waking up and going to work in inky blackness, and having the sun come to a full stop at 4pm.  The three months of ultra-short days and dim northern sun was killer, and one week it got cold enough to get icy.  That was it so far.  Kind of boring.  I'll take boring.

Meanwhile, reports from Maine lead me to conclude that packing up and moving from that state is the wisest thing I've ever done.

Stay toasty.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

February. Blah. Blah. Blah.

For the first time in months, the sun started streaming through my bedroom window this morning.  It's finally high enough in the sky to illuminate my flat once again, which is an event that hasn't occurred since November.  It feels like a victory of sorts: the winter blahs that absolutely everyone has right now (ah, except for you Aussies and Kiwis) have an end in sight.  While there is absolutely no end to the photos of piles of snows that I'm getting from friends and family in the Northeast, I have confidence that there is green grass hibernating under stacks of snow.  It might just be another month before you see it.

I haven't taken my camera out in more than a month now.  I should just.

London continues to grow on me, despite the yawning maw of a sinkhole that is developing under my window.  Something to do with the water main.  I'm sure it will be really quiet to fix.  I'll hardly know they are working.

More soon- I feel I have a lot of creativity right now, but no way to organize it.

Stay toasty.