Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Arran part two and yarny progress!

Hello there!
Today I want to share with you some of the other places we explored during our short break on Arran. Over by Blackwaterfoot on the southwest side of the island is King's Cave, one of the locations in which Robert the Bruce is said to have encountered the spider. We chose to walk to it from the forestry car park which makes it into a nice hour and a half circular walk. When you reach the shoreline there are a series of caves in the sandstone cliffs...


But there is no doubt as to which is King's Cave!


I can honestly say I have never seen such a grand entrance to a cave before! Inside the walls are covered in carvings of various ages...



Some even have dates on them...


We were glad we had brought flashlights so we could have a good look around. Then on the way back out I spotted something else...


Probably not a descendant of the famous spider but proof that someone has a sense of humor!
After walking back to the car we drove over to Whiting Bay for a picnic lunch. Afterwards, just as we were getting ready to set off from the car, the rain started, but we live in Scotland (!) so on went the waterproofs and we walked on past the soggy tourists huddled under the trees looking miserably at the skies. It turned into a very wet walk but actually it was rather nice to be under the tall trees in the torrential rain as we climbed up the glen to Glenashdale Falls. Another bonus of the weather was that we only met one other couple the entire time (a welcome change as Arran as become a lot busier with visitors since the RET scheme was introduced). The Falls themselves were quite spectacular and well worth the climb...


We decided to take the option to walk out to the Giant's Graves instead of going straight back down the way we had come. The rain had stopped by the time we got there and the views were pretty good too!



We said goodbye to Arran the following day after a morning of steady rain and a high volume of midges (UGH!! My major reason for staying away from the west coast in summer!). The skies seemed to be brightening over the island again and I bet they ended up enjoying another lovely evening. 


Once again we opted to sit inside on the crossing and I made a little more progress on Stormy Seas...


After looking at various patterns on Ravelry and having a good think I decided to put armholes into my Vortex circle, give it sleeves, and thereby turn it into more of a cardigan (something I do wear). I measured the distance across the back of one of my sweaters from one armhole to the other and when the diameter of my Vortex matched that I cast off all the stitches between markers 2-3 and markers 6-7. On the next row I cast on the same number of stitches and continued going round in pattern again. I bought another Colourwheel, had a play around with front shaping and ended up ripping a lot of knitting out - twice!- before deciding to just stick with making a big circle . When it was almost the diameter I wanted I stopped knitting in pattern and knitted 16 rounds in garter stitch so the border would lie flat. I cast off with a picot cast off (thanks Youtube!) to give it some extra stretch and make a pretty edge. Now I am happy with it, but when directions say the picot bind off is time consuming they sure aren't kidding! At the point where I was ready to begin casting off I had 488 stitches which was taking me about 20 minutes to knit all the way around once. It then took me 20 minutes to cast off between the first two markers, which was just one eighth of the way round! It also really gobbled the yarn - I had 93g left of the second Colourwheel by the time I was finished. Then it was time to pick up some stitches and make sleeves. I had two balls of Patons Fairytale Soft DK in blue left from knitting a sweater for Little H a couple of years ago, the color is now discontinued so I can't get any more but I figured there was enough there for sleeves? We will see! This is where I have gotten up to now...


I also joined the squares I had made for Ebee's Flower Square Blanket so now I have eight rows completed...


My goal is to make and join 2 rows a month for the next few months so it will be ready for my daughter by the time the temperatures really start to drop.
Lastly, spurred on by all your kind comments about the Seriously Southwestern Socks, I made an effort and finished the second sock! Hubbie is really pleased with them, has declared them the comfiest socks he has ever worn, and requested more! I have yarn and a (much simpler) pattern picked out for him, but am hoping to finish Stormy Seas before I start something new. (I really would like to get three more things finished off my WIP list before I add something else to the mix but I'm sure you all know how the daily struggle with temptation goes! ;-)). Anyways here are his finished socks...



I hope to be back soon to show you what I worked on in June when I should have been working on UFO's! Until then I hope you are enjoying a lovely week with lots of creative opportunities :-)







Friday, 7 July 2017

17 ufos in 2017 - June update

Hello there!
I am really late with my 17ufosin2017  post this month, mainly because I was going to miss June out. Why? Because I have not worked on a single UFO all month!!! *Hangs head in shame* There were a few reasons  excuses for this but the end result - no progress. So I thought what's the point in writing a post? Then I thought this is the half way point through the year so it might be good to have a look at The List and see where I am now.
Off of the original list I have completed numbers 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 15, 16, and 17. I also have made substantial progress on numbers 12 and 13. This leaves seven projects I haven't looked at yet and two I would like to try and work on some more before the year is out. So the updated list looks like this:

  1. Black cross stitch Christmas decorations - set of four started October 2012, one completely finished, another one and a bit now stitched
  2. Popcorn bear cross stitch - started October 2013
  3. Little knitted hedgehog - knitted 2 (or was it 3?) years ago, needs put together
  4. Yoyo pumpkin - yoyo's made, all parts cut out, needs sewn together
  5. Sugar Plum fairy -  knitted 2 (I think?) years ago needs assembled
  6. Lion for little C - partially made amigurumi started last summer
  7. Crochet bag - squares made April 2015
  8. Stocking for little H - started for his first Christmas, he will be 5 in May!
  9. The wave cross stitch - started June 2011 (my oldest UFO)
Is this still doable to finish everything by December 31? Well if I could stay away from temptation then possibly, but in the real world probably not! Especially as my favorite times to craft for are just coming up - Fall, Halloween, Christmas. I have a bunch of WIP's I need to finish and then I am going to try and be good and get some more done off the list before starting anything else!!!! Watch this space! 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Over the Seas to Arran

Hello there!
Firstly I want to say a big thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment on my last post - it is so lovely to hear from you! Also all your positive comments on the socks have really spurred me on & I'm hoping to have a finish on them by the end of the week :-) For today's post I thought you might like to see some photos from our recent trip to the isle of Arran but when I started uploading them I realised there were probably too many for one post so I am going to split it into two. So here goes part one...
For me any trip starts with the crafty project(s) that will accompany me so a few days before we left I headed upstairs to peruse yarn and patterns and pick another travel project. I already had one packed and ready to go, yarn and hook to make more squares for  Ebee's Flower Square Blanket, but I doubted whether I would last a week without some knitting too! The Seriously Southwestern Socks were definitely not in the running - too complicated for in the car! - and I really didn't want to start another pair of socks before finishing these. I wanted something that would be small and easy to work on, preferably on circular needles, and so I gave in to the call of the Deep Blue Sea Colourwheel I bought a few months ago. As soon as I saw it in the shop I knew what I wanted to make with it, a Vortex Shawl. After the first twelve rows this pattern is just a two row repeat which would make it perfect travel knitting so I cast on...


Over the last year I have found myself increasingly drawn to shawls and have made two (which I never wear because basically I am a jeans and t-shirt girl, and no amount of shawl knitting will transform me into one of those shawl wearing nymphs dancing on the beach that you see in the magazines!). I know I will still knit more because I really enjoy making them but at the same time I wondered if I could make this into something I will actually wear.... In the meantime I was having fun working round those two rows, first in the car, then on the ferry to Arran. Due to the colors in the wheel I decided to name this project Stormy Seas so it seemed rather appropriate to work on while we sailed, and, although the sea wasn't rough, it was cloudy and too cold and windy to stay out on deck so we sat inside instead...



The ferry from Ardrossan to Brodick takes about an hour and, although much has changed in the twenty years since my last visit, this view is pretty much the same!


We got checked in to the guest house in Brodick and by then the weather had brightened up considerably. We had brought our bikes so decided to go for a cycle over to Lamlash. The afternoon turned into a glorious evening...


Complete with lots of birdlife and seals in the bay...


The next morning was grey again but it stayed dry as we drove up to Lochranza at the north end of the island. We went for a walk along the north shore of the bay where we spotted more seals...


We followed the path as it climbed up the cliffs and looped back round providing some great views down over the bay to the ruined castle...


This area is home to a large population of red deer so we weren't too surprised to see some of them as well...


Back in the car we drove down the western side of the island to Machrie Moor and, after a picnic lunch, walked out to see the Stone Circles



With the low cloud rolling over the surrounding hills bringing intermittent rain it was rather atmospheric exploring round these ancient sites.
The next day was forecast to be the best of the week weatherwise so we had decided it would be the day we tackled Goat Fell. At 2,867 feet it is 133 feet short of being a Munro (it is a Corbett instead) but in terms of relative height it is the 16th highest mountain in the UK. I didn't take geography at school so where terms like "relative height" & "topographic prominence" get involved I start to get confused! But I think that basically although it's smaller than Ben Wyvis you climb more because the bottom of it is closer to sea level (if that makes sense?). We picked to walk the route from Brodick, starting off behind the Cladach Centre, with brief views across the farmland of Glen Rosa. It is the most popular route & this chappie was keeping an eye on all those crazy humans heading up the path this morning...


Then it was back into some pretty woodland for a while...


The path climbed out into open country above the trees and the view behind us was magnificent! This is Brodick Bay, you can just see Holy Isle rising behind the headland on the left...


As you can see the cloud was pretty low and the view ahead would be hidden...


...then come briefly into view...


...before the cloud swirled in around us again...


This is a very clear, well trodden path and lots of other folks were walking it too so we were in no danger of getting lost, it just added to the atmosphere. Also it was pretty fast moving, another ten minutes and it was completely clear again! This pattern kept repeating so we were fairly sure we would still get a view at the top, we just might have to wait a few minutes for it to clear up. We made our first coffee stop in some sheltering rocks just above where the other path climbs up from Corrie...


...and before we tackled the last steep ascent...


To get some idea of scale can you see the person in the red jacket bottom right corner? There are a few other humans in this shot too if you look really hard! The path was stepped and a little scrambly in places but everything was firm underfoot so a big improvement on Ben Wyvis in my book!


And it was definitely worth it when we got to the top...



Here you can see across Brodick Bay with Holy Isle and Lamlash Bay behind, and across the sea to the Mainland...


We ate our picnic lunch here, looking across to the Mainland and the islands of the Firth of Clyde...


The cloud came rolling back in just as we finished eating so any drops were handily hidden from my view as we climbed back down the steps! As we took the Brodick path at the junction the skies started clearing and when we got a bit further down we looked back and saw this...


From here it developed into a beautifully sunny afternoon and evening, we ate our tea outside basking in the warm sunshine and making the most of the summer's day. 
We had another two days on Arran after this but I will save those photos for another post. Thank you for visiting with me today, I hope you enjoyed a little look around (and from) Arran! 










Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Stitching and knitting...

Hello there!
Today I want to share with you the projects I was working on at the beginning of the month. After finishing the Crazy like a Little Fox socks I cast on.... another pair of socks! I think I am addicted, I have over 190 sock patterns favorited on Ravelry and a growing stash of sock yarn. Seriously the stuff is like catnip to me! For this pair I picked the Seriously Southwestern Socks pattern by Mary the Hobbit on Ravelry and some Drops Fabel in a print called Tex Mex. For the darker contrast color I picked Premier Yarns Deborah Norville Serenity Sock Weight in Deep Brown which I bought last year in Colorado. For a while Hubbie has been eyeing my handknit socks and I have been promising to knit him some so he can see (feel?) what all the fuss is about (honestly once you go handknit you won't want to put anything else on your feet ever again). His only request was he wanted some bright colorful ones, "not boring black or navy" so I thought this bright orange might fit the bill...


To get them to fit a size 12 mens foot I had to play around with needles and gauge a bit and I also had to learn a new-to-me technique for the diamond pattern - mosaic knitting. Hmmmm....The jury's out on that one... maybe I am just very comfortable with regular stranded knitting? I used a short row heel again which made it easier to continue the chevron pattern all the way around the foot instead of trying out the complicated looking instructions for producing the pattern only over the top of the foot (also I figured the double thickness all the way round would be warmer and comfier to wear). What with one thing and another I found I really needed to concentrate quite a bit on these so they became daytime only knitting and consequently progress slowed. Right now I have one completed and am partway down the mosaic section on the second...


Meanwhile the July issue of Cross Stitch Crazy magazine caught my eye, partly because it came with some cute Margaret Sherry card designs as the free gift. I have a very soft spot for hedgehogs so I really couldn't resist this little guy...


How cute is he?!!!! Instead of using the kit as supplied I stitched him on some pale green aida from my stash. At some point he is destined to become a small for my August shelf (my theme for August is sunflowers). I thoroughly enjoyed stitching on him, and once he was done I was reluctant to pick up one of the UFO's I should've been stitching on. Basically all the stitchy ones became UFO's in the first place because I hit some form of problem with them & they ceased being a relaxing stitch, I really wanted to stitch something simple and fun for a bit! This coincided with me having a shift around in my sewing room which meant sorting through and moving my "to stitch" piles (these have spent years growing and there is a Christmas pile and a non Christmas pile in case you were wondering ;-)). Seeing all these things I want to stitch "one day" was too much temptation and so I picked a small one - Time for God, Design #141 by Lizzie Kate. This relative newbie has only been on the pile for two years! I wanted to make a few changes to the coloring, firstly I stitched it on Permin 28 count Linen Lambswool, secondly I changed the colors of the blocks behind the letters. I chose the red, green, and yellow that was already used on the chart in between the words and added a blue but after stitching a couple of the red blocks I wasn't happy with it...


The red was too dark, the letter wasn't clear enough, so I went back to my thread boxes and looked for a lighter shade which would contrast more sharply with the brown. I tried it out behind the bottom G...


Much better!! So I unpicked the block behind the W and restitched that too...


Once that was sorted I finished the rest of the design in a couple of evenings...


Perfect timing as we were due to leave for Arran the next morning! I will tell you all about that (and the crafty projects which traveled with me) in my next post. Have a great week!  




Sunday, 25 June 2017

My first Munro!!

Hello there!
Today I want to share with you one last thing that I got up to in May (be warned this will be a photo heavy post!). Over the last year Hubbie and I have been doing a lot more walking and cycling and part of that was building up to climbing our first Munro! A Munro is a Scottish mountain over 3,000 feet in height and there are officially 282 of them. You can find a great article here about Munros and Munro Bagging if you want to know more (bagging is the term used for climbing them, ie you reach the summit, you bagged it). Now I am not planning on bagging them all by any means but there is no doubt that the scenery is spectacular and, as we are blessed to live in such a beautiful area, it does seem a bit of a waste not to get out there and see it!! So far June has given us a very mixed bag weatherwise but we had some really beautiful weather in May. This is often the way here in this part of the world, we get our best stretches of sunny weather in May, and, now we aren't restricted by school holiday dates, Hubbie often takes a week off work for us to enjoy it. So we set a tentative date in his May holiday to tackle Ben Wyvis. Although a path exists to walk from Dingwall (where we live) it is longer and the terrain is much rougher than the regular "official" path which starts just north of Garve. The day we had picked arrived with promising weather so we drove the 20 miles or so to Garve and parked the car.


It is a popular, well trodden route and the path is mostly well maintained and clear to follow, we have walked the first couple of miles a few times before (it is especially pretty in the snow) and the start is easy going...


After crossing a stream the path swings right and runs alongside it, climbing gently and giving you your first glimpse of what you have undertaken!


The water sparkled in the sunshine as it gurgled downstream, leaping over the rocks and looking very tempting for a paddle! As we hadn't brought a towel we resisted and kept walking...



The path started climbing above the stream...


...until, as the stream started to meander, the path took a straighter route towards the mountain and we left the streams' cheerful noises behind us. We also left the trees behind and headed up into open country, the weather was perfect and there was a cooling breeze which was very welcome! This became the dominant feature ahead of us, but despite first appearances, we knew we were not looking at the summit, just the top of An Cabar. 


Every now and then it pays to stop, turn around, and take in the views behind you!!



The water in this photo is Loch Glascarnoch, a man made reservoir opened in the 1950's as part of the area's hydro electric power scheme (green energy is not a new idea in this part of the world). The dam is barely visible in the photo below but stands 92 feet high and runs for 1673 feet in length so it is a pretty big landmark on the way up to Ullapool!
Then we reached the steepest part of the ascent, the stone steps which zig zag up An Cabar (which I think is Gaelic for "Steps from Hell"! ;-))


The terrain to either side of the path is strewn with rocks so you can take a break and a seat and enjoy the views...


This is our first glimpse through to "our" side of the Ben...


...and this is the view down the way we have come, can you see where the path leaves the stream?


At the top of the steps the path becomes much rougher and offers a few choices to negotiate the terrain and I must admit this was my least favorite part of the walk. I am not that confident over loose scree and am also scared of heights so "less steep loose path but nearer the edge" over "steeper loose path further in" is not much of a choice in my book!


But the views! Wow! This was the top of the hill on the other side of the stream as we climbed higher...


For a while the top of An Cabar seemed to continually remain just out of reach...


But finally we reached the horseshoe shaped cairn!


By now the "cooling breeze" from earlier was a decidedly cold wind and I had added first a long sleeved shirt and then my jacket over my t shirt. We decided to have our picnic lunch and coffee inside the horseshoe shaped cairn and take advantage of the shelter it provided. Not a bad view for lunchtime either!


Here you can see down over Dingwall to the Firth and the Black Isle beyond...


But we knew this was not the true summit, we had climbed to 946m but there was another 100m to climb to reach the true summit across the ridge. We put the coffee away, put on gloves (yes it was that cold despite the blue skies!) and followed the track...


The hardest thing about this last mile and a half was remembering to keep an eye on the path! The views to either side were spectacular....






It was very windy and unfortunately a little black speck got blown onto the camera lense which neither of us noticed until we were looking at the photos the next day. It was also cold and as we neared the true summit and looked back along the ridge there were patches of snow still hanging on. Looking for snow on the Ben is part of the rhythm of the year for us, the first snowy covering roundabout October used to be greeted with excitement by our kids that winter/Christmas was coming and maybe even a snow day from school if they got really lucky! Equally a late re-covering of springtime snow warns us to watch out for frosts, the cold weather isn't done with us yet, and to hold off putting tender plants out into the garden for a little bit longer. But seeing it from this angle was definitely a new experience!


We reached the trig point at the summit almost three hours after leaving the car park, not bad going as we were in no hurry and had taken our time including stopping for lunch.


  After drinking in the views some more (and a few more photos) we turned around to retrace our steps. With the cairn behind us the gentle roll of the ridge finally gave way to the steepness of An Cabar, at this point it looked as though the path just ran off the edge!


I was even less impressed with this section of the path on the way down and we actually took longer on the descent than we had on the climb up!


Hubbie had to help me a lot and also stop and wait for me to negotiate bits slowly but that also gave him time to snap more photos...


...and once we passed this huge boulder I knew the worst was over. Did I mention some of those stone steps wobble under your feet? Ugh!!! 


Our speed increased once more and soon we were back to our old friend the stream (the hill behind it the one we had looked down on on our way up)...


About 40 minutes later we were back to the car. With the coffee at lunchtime seeming a distant memory we were definitely ready to get home for a cuppa! 
All the years we have lived in the Highlands (it will be twenty four this December) we have seen the Ben on a daily basis and it has long been in my mind to climb it "one day". To actually do it was a great experience and I hope you enjoyed coming along with me!