Monday, 31 March 2008

A reluctant spring?

There was an enormous amount of fresh snow in the French Alps last week -tons more than in February! The first roadside snow we encountered was in Chambery & there was loads in Bourg St Maurice, which is a tad over 700m above sea level. About a foot had fallen 30 hours before we arrived. We were armed with snow chains but were glad that we didn't have to use them on the hairpin bends up to Vallandry. The apartment was not quite slopeside but had great views across towards La Plagne & down the valley. A two minute uphill walk took us to the first chairlift & so we hit the slopes much earlier, even managing 'first tracks' at times. We were glad of the tree lined runs (well I was anyway!) above the resort and with the snow in great condition right back down to the village we were able to clock up the ski miles without venturing out into more whit-out conditions. When the skies cleared & the sun crept out the temperatures still remained low but the views were awesome. Most days we swept back down to the apartment for a lunchtime warm & bowls of thick soup! We did, however, have one lunchtime feast at a favorite spot above Arc 1800 -L'Arpette. My Tartiflette was a while coming but was worth the wait. It took all hands to scrape the last delicious scraps from the dish!
As we drove down from Yorkshire to Vallandry this gave me plenty of knitting time! I drove a little but Mr J prefers to drive & doesn't knit too well!On Thursday evening we drove south. I finished the Amanda hat before Milton Keynes & added a few inches on the Melon Scarf before our first motel stop just north of Dover. The English Channel was pretty rough on Good Friday morning & the ferries were running late. Fortunately we were squeezed onto an 'early' ferry that left at the same time as the one that we were booked onto! The ferry was packed with Easter travellers, but I found a spot to sit & continue with the melon Scarf. Mr J & son were happy to eat & wander around! Once we landed I started work proper on the Forest Canopy Shawl that had been planned as my main holiday knit. It was a great project for the trip, with lifelines in place (but thankfully never needed) I was happy to knit away the miles. The pattern is fairly easy to remember & as I was knitting in DK/worsted on 5mm needles it grew reasonably quickly. The slight colour variations in the yarn (dyed by 21st Century Yarns) made for added interest & with a couple of evenings knitting & one too foggy afternoon I finished the shawl on Wednesday evening. I might have squeezed another pattern repeat out of the yarn but with over 300 stitches on the needles that was a risk I preferred not to take. The photo was meant to be an 'artistic' effort with the shawl slung over the balcony with the snow & trees in the background but the contrast in the morning light was too much really & by afternoon the weather had closed back in! Further knitting enabled me to finish one sock (Diagonal Cross Rib socks by Ann Budd) and more of the Melon Scarf. When I was not skiing & too tired to knit or watch a film I managed to finish listening to my Audible download of 'Dragonfly in Amber' by Diana Gabaldon. I have read the books before but have really enjoyed the unabridged versions of the first two & will download 'Voyager' with one of my next months credits. It was great to be physically rather than mentally tired although I often woke to find the earpieces to my mp3 player still in but the sleep setting having kicked in and switched the player off just after I dropped off!

The drive home was long as a) the traffic was a bitch & b) there is no b.... the traffic from Albertville to Chambrey was predictably busy. The cut off via the 'Tunnel du Chat' from Chambrey to Bourg en Bresse was really pleasant driving & then the autoroute north to Dijon was very unpredictable. Slowing to a standstill & then opening up for no obvious reason. Once we cut to the north east towards Nancy & Metz it was much better & we reached our motel only a couple of hours later than hoped. The motel has free wi-fi which was great (Campanille) & all were able to catch up on stuff via the laptop. The drive through Luxembourg, Belgium & Holland to Europort was OK & the option of taking the Rotterdam-Hull crossing was a good one. We have crossed via Hull-Zeebrugger before but this was much better. The 'Pride of Rotterdam' is some boat! The food was excellent & the whole experience was very relaxed. We were back in Hull by 8 & home just after 9.30. Better than driving through southern England.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

The starting gun!

I've had a touch of startitus! This morning I cast on another 'Melon' scarf from Victorian Knitting Today. I am using some sock yarn I bought at the Harrogate Knitting Show. Again I am doing a 5 pattern repeat & a simple garter stitch border. My last Melon scarf has become a favorite wear & its a fairly quick & easy but interesting knit. I can slip it into my bag as a change from The Forest Canopy Shawl. Its growing slowly as I am still rationing it.As a KAL -well some of the group have finished, declaring it a scarf scale project, me I want a 'uge shawl to wrap around me. I have finished Grandpa J's socks & cast on another Ann Budd sock pattern -Cross Diagonal Rib. This is also using anonymous yarn bought in Harrogate. The pattern is great but Ann Budd's suggested needle sizes are way out (general Ravelry agreement). She must be one tight knitter. I have just ordered her book of basic patterns to go with the sweater book. I love the notion of starting with a basic design & customing it to my own ideas. My first sweater knit is taking shape in my mind at least!

I have also cast on & finished a headband for the forthcoming ski trip (Loads of snow)

I used the pattern for the Amanda hat. I would like to knit the hat, its a lovely simple lace stitch. Brigit is growing slowly. I spent an hour learning to cable without needles but have customised a mini cable needle with a broken Brittany Birch needle & am making much better progress. This is no critisism of the many great tutorials out 'there'but single stitch cables, 2.25mm needles & plum coloured yarn are probably not the best thing to learn a technique with and actually, I like cabling!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Mostly about knitting.....honestly!

In another couple of weeks and we are driving down to the Alps (at least I can knit without worrying about security checks!). The destination is Vallandry, which is part of the Les Arcs ski area but will hopefully allow for some 'doorstep' skiing, rather than riding the Funicular each morning. When we left last month there was a real need for fresh snow & it has been arriving in abundance for the last week and looks like continuing for at least another week or so!

Now, about knitting! The ladies in the Ravelry 'At Home in Harrogate' are proving to be an evil influence!!!!! They encourage MORE yarn purchases and MORE time spent knitting, sometimes in THEIR company & alone and EVEN MORE time spent on RAVELRY engaging in reading & writing messages and STALKING other peoples projects!!!!!!!!! Its great! More of it I say! We met again on Wednesday, at my house. We had a really good laugh, started on a Forest Canopy KAL, inspected new stash & knitting book acquisitions and generally spent a great evening in the company of fibre fanatics! I am knitting the Forest Canopy shawl in Merino/ Lambswool DK from 21st Century Yarns, purchased with nothing in particular in mind at the Harrogate Knitting & Stitching Show. Others are using 4ply or fingering and there are over 500 projects on Ravelry to help(?) you decide what yarn/ colourway you might want to use for your Forest Canopy shawl. Its a fairly easy, intuitive pattern to use (I am using the chart rather than the written pattern). I have placed lifelines (a first for me) but I have not needed to use them yet. Its intended as a 'driving' project but I keep been tempted to 'just do another repeat'! The yarn is more 'claret' than 'pink' though!

Father in Law has requested socks, so socks he is getting. Ann Budd's Mock Wave Cable Socks in Drops Fabel colour 520. The yarn came from Scandinavian Knitting Design (very quick postal service), is 25% polymade & 75% superwash wool. The colours are great and its £2 for a 50gm ball!!!!! I am on sock two & its really knitting up well. I have left the foot in plain stocking stitich as the pattern produces quite a raised rib. I used 2.75 & 2.5mm needles (as most folk on Ravelry have done) rather than the 3.25 & 2.75 suggested in the pattern.
I have also made a little progress on Brigit socks but need to learn to cable without a cable needle. Mr J's garter rib socks are finished (I didn't need the extra yarn). The Trekking XXL colour 100 is fantastic -at least one 'At Home in Harrogate' member has some on the needles but isn't planning to match her socks with this yarn! What is that matching stripes stuff about Sue?

I have also bought a couple of books! Yup..... this means I plan to knit something with sleeves. I am drawn to a raglan jacket, with cables & things. I have bought some Aran in Heather colour denim from New Lanark Mills. This is a fantastic find! £1.80 for 100grams 100% wool aran yarn in a good range of colours (or 90% wool 10% silk) and £1 for 50gm DK wool.

My inspiration might come from this book, Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys and Arans by Gladys Thompson, I suspect it will come more under the heading 'general knitting interest' in my library, rather than an actual 'things to knit' book. It discusses & includes patterns associated with the different Fishing Villages around the coast of Britain & Ireland. The resulting Guernseys are increadible but I doubt I will be knitting on size 14 steel needles!

Oh and yes, I have knitted both mitts from 'Folk Knitting from Estonia'. Trouble is, they are both for the left hand!!!!!! I am just about laughing as I have plenty of yarn left for two right mitts!!!! I even remember thinking about needing to do the 'other hand'!!!! What an idiot! I need another holiday! Don't even ASK what school is like at the moment!