Big day :-)

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I shall be fifty.

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I wouldn’t normally mention it: I am not one of those ‘It’s-all-about-me-bring-on-the-pressies-and-cake’ people – in fact, quite the opposite. This time, however,  I intend to celebrate and I want to share my happiness and gratitude.

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I have so much to be thankful for: living this long in good health and happiness; loving and being loved; living a simple but fulfilling and endlessly fascinating life in a beautiful place; being part of the intricate web of life on our amazing planet. I’m spreading my celebration out over several days (hell, why not?) so when Roger asked if there was anything I’d like to do, given the beautiful weather a long walk and picnic sprang to mind. I fancied the coast path.

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Not being the most enthusiastic of beach babes, I’ve always preferred the seaside out of season. No crowds, sun brollies or suntan oil – give me a windswept winter beach every time, pared back to the basic elements, empty and wild. Even better if the sun is shining and it’s warm.

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The air was full of bees and butterflies, no wonder really as the flowers are blooming as if it were still summer; flocks of goldfinches, pipits and black redstarts kept us company along the way.

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This is a dramatic coastline, all rocks and rollers; we walked several kilometres of it between Luarca and Puerto de Vega.

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Lunch was a picnic on a rocky outcrop – a bit vertiginous, but a great suntrap!

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Then a scramble down onto Playa de Barayo which we had to ourselves apart from a flock of gulls.

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Such a perfect day. 🙂

Perfect evenings, too. I have so many sock projects lined up in my mind that I’ve been spinning like mad so that I don’t run out of yarn. My Blue-Faced Leicester/tussak silk blend has certainly made for some lively spinning. I blame the silk entirely; it has fibres that are very fine and very long which should match the BFL well but I’d forgotten how excitable it can be. No matter how well blended, the silk seemed determined to regroup, snatching out of the drafting triangle and hurtling onto the bobbin at breakneck speed. It’s been a case of firm hands, full concentration and regular adjustments to the braking tension. I love the way these projects evolve and go off-plan: I decided early in the first bobbin to forget 3-ply, 2-ply just seemed a better idea with these singles. This skein is for ‘cosy toes’ socks so I’m not too bothered about a dense fabric and, having plied the singles fairly loosely (whoops, another sock rule broken . . .), I now feel like adding a bit of texture through stitch patterns when I knit instead of sticking to plain stocking stitch. These two bobbins really demonstrate the different types of yarn created by different fibres and spinning techniques.

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The undyed BFL/silk (short draw) on the left is a dense and lustrous yarn, while the coloured Perendale is loftier with a matt finish and slight fuzziness about it. When you consider that there is 50g of Perendale to 60g of BFL/silk, you can see how much air the long draw method introduces.

Back to the job in hand: first measure wraps per inch to ascertain thickness.

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Then skein on the niddy-noddy and calculate length.

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I usually wash the skein in hot, soapy water for 10 minutes then line-dry under slight tension (nothing technical, I just hang a clothes hanger on the bottom) to set the twist.

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This time, I’ve fulled it a little; in theory this should soften the yarn even further. It involved treating it in all the ways wool is not supposed to be treated: soak in hot water then plunge into cold water then ‘snap’ the skein several times. Yikes! It felt all wrong but the yarn survived.

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On to the dye kettle. I want to experiment with lots of different dyeing techniques: this time I was playing with a new set of colours with a focus on mixing them. I was after ‘Midwinter Fire’, not such a marked separation of bold colours as I’ve done previously, but something more sophisticated, warm and toasty in subtle gradations of red and orange that will suit a textured knit. My Eurolana dye choices were red, orange, soft yellow and bright yellow. Here we go.

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Mmm, after 10 minutes of that it was all a bit screaming orange, so I threw in another whack of red to bring the colour down a bit. The result was lovely, a rich colour I can’t really put a name to but it’s a skein of soft, silky gorgeousness to knit up into a birthday gift for my winter ‘baby.’

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Back to birthdays, then. As a music lover, just for fun  I looked up who was ‘Number 1’ on the day I was born: turns out it was Tom Jones https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-yKq-FsFyk  -very fitting considering what an important part Wales has played in my life! I really don’t believe in living in the past, though, so during my birthday meal I shall be listening to the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I . I went to Iceland (the country, not the shop) for my 40th birthday: it is the most amazing place I have ever been . . . I just had to go back, and hope to do so again one day if I get the chance.

On a final note, someone knows me only too well. Thanks, Mum! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Big day :-)

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