An itch to stitch

Miles walked: 117.3      Miles to go: 382.7

We have a long-standing joke with Sam and Adrienne that whenever they visit, they bring bad weather with them and, to be fair to us, they would be the first to admit it’s a well-earned reputation! However, we hoped this time maybe it would be different and their fortnight’s holiday here would be blessed with great weather for their sakes. It certainly started out that way. We enjoyed some fantastic walks up gorges and along the coast path, followed by delicious meals in the evening sunshine.

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When Sarah, Gwyn and Annie arrived for several days we had fun on the beach, swam in the sea and cooked paella outside on an old stove.

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So far, so good . . . but, sadly, the old jinx was still there. Cue forty-eight hours of high winds and extreme torrential rain which lashed the Asturian coast mercilessly. I have no photos as no-one in their right mind would have wanted to venture out with a camera (bearing in mind we lived on a rain-lashed mountain in Wales for many years, that really says something). We lit the stove and hunkered down, hoping our roof – due to be replaced – wouldn’t leak like a sieve. In the end, we were let off lightly: the only casualties were our two pear trees which keeled over in a river of run-off from the storm drains. Heavily laden with fruit, it took the tractor to lift them upright; we have tethered them with ropes, but whether they survive is anybody’s guess.

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Not so lucky were several neighbours whose houses flooded; there were landslides across roads everywhere and only one topic of conversation locally. This is – thankfully – not normal! 

It was hard to believe it had happened just a couple of days later when we cheered Roger on in warm sunshine for the Ribadesella 10k race.

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The intrepid runners set off: we can’t miss Roger in those yellow socks.

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First in his age group: another podium, another trophy!

The weather has recovered and it’s very warm and dry again, but there’s an almost imperceptible change in the air. The mornings are darker and dew-drenched. The robins are fluting their haunting melodies in the afternoon. In the squash patch, the umbrella leaves are shrinking to reveal an abundance of swollen, hidden fruits and on the mountains, the bracken is hazed with gold. Autumn is very definitely in the air.

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At this time of year, I always have a tremendous burst of creative energy: I need to spin skeins, knit jumpers, stitch quilts. I think it’s the textiles equivalent of digging potatoes, drying onions and beans and picking apples and pears to store, picking blackberries and nuts, boiling up vats of jams and chutneys, taking honey from the hives . . . preparing for darker, colder, hungrier days.

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I finished Annie’s knitted cabled jacket in time for her to take home with her after her holiday here. She looked so sweet and snuggly in it, like Little Red Riding Hood, and it was none too big – our precious grandchildren are growing up SO quickly! I just hope that Granny doesn’t end up at the wrong end of a wolf any time soon; I have a parcel of wool ready for collection during our forthcoming trip to the UK, my winter knitting projects waiting patiently for attention. In the meantime, my restless fingers need to do something after the day’s gardening / renovating / decorating are done. With my spinning wheel and sewing machine both in storage, knitting is the only possibility and as a short-term project, socks are definitely the answer.

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I love bright self-patterning yarns.

I love knitting socks. It’s a habit I started some years ago when bigger projects just took up too much time (after spending 18 months knitting a jumper, a few minutes snatched in the evening here and there, I decided something had to be done) and I’ve never looked back. Like cabled patterns, there is such a simple mathematical logic to sock knitting that instructions are irrelevant – they just grow and develop and drop off the needles in no time at all; even better, there is no sewing up, the part of creating knitting garments which I detest!

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Homespun Blue-Faced Leicester / kid mohair blend: the cosiest hiking socks I’ve ever worn.

After a serious rummage in my spinning box currently stored in the barn, I found a skein of Jacobs wool I had spun last winter as part of my ongoing project to experiment with spinning and knitting British breeds of wool. I had blended undyed white wool with kid mohair (added for strength and durability) and spun a singles bobbin, then plied it with a singles bobbin of undyed dark brown (almost black) to create a marled yarn. I hoped this would knit up into an interesting marbled ‘humbug’ pattern without the need for any textured stitches; straight stocking stitch would do for a quick knit. However – to be completely honest – I am not convinced that this yarn will make great socks. Jacobs wool is hardly at the top of the list for best sock yarns and this one feels quite coarse, maybe not soft enough to wear next to the skin. Also, a three-ply makes for a far better ’rounded’ sock yarn but I stuck with two-ply because I wanted an even balance of the dark and light colours. They might end up being welly socks to wear over a thinner pair – we’ll see.

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In the meantime, I’ll keep on knitting them anyway. Who knows – if Sam and Adrienne plan a winter visit, woolly socks might be just the thing we all need! 🙂

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2 thoughts on “An itch to stitch

  1. Hope the pear trees are going to make it! It’s very stormy here today. The sand on the beach was blowing like desert storm. I like knitting socks best, too. And they are so nice to wear. Still haven’t finished my jumper started two years ago… I can’t believe how far advanced your pumpkins are and the bean pods dried already. The quinoa yield was not so high (500g), but the plants were very trouble-free and the processing fun. We harvested them slightly too early (the main seed pods were ready but the sideshoots were not) so I think it could be at least 50% more. The main crux for us is having somewhere dry to hang the plants to wilt for a few days – the kitchen was not ideal. A horreo would be!

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