Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And then it started raining

We headed out in threatening skies to Dockray in a cab arranged by Mickledore, then hit the trail to Pooley Bridge. After about 10 minutes, the rain started, so we stopped, opened our daypacks, and put on our raingear, then continued on down the trail to Aira Force, a waterfall. The rain let up so we took a few pictures here, then moved on. Then it started again, and didn't let up until we were a few hundred yards away from Pooley Bridge, where we spent the next night. (That pretty much covers the first 5 hours of walking. Rain. Lots of rain. Through pastures, lanes, a small forest, and around the side of a small hill.) In the middle of this cold windy rain I thought - I wish I had fingerless gloves now! That would really be nice.

That night I cast on for Evangeline in Mirasol Miski, the softest yarn ever. I modified the length a bit to be inbetween the long and short versions. It's a super quick knit, I finished the first one in two evenings. It's a little snug across the palm for me though; I think I will rework it with a thumb gusset.

The next day, more rain as we walked from Pooley Bridge to Patterdale. According to the brochure at the B&B, Crookabeck Angora's is just up the road, but it's one of those call for an appointment places (working farm), and since goat based yarn makes me itch, I decided not to bother them, knowing that I wouldn't actually buy anything. We also saw Wordsworth's former cottage (now a B&B).

The most astonishing thing on this hike? No matter how high you hike (and I think we went 2000 ft up in elevation today), there is a sheep higher than you. Except at the cairn with the elevation marker. There weren't any sheep on that particular small pile of rocks. But they were nearby, and not breathing nearly as hard as I was.

A proper dinner at a pub - fish and chips (the biggest piece of fried fish I have ever seen), a pint and half of ale, and a good nights sleep. The half-pint of beer, by the way, is the most wonderful thing. I really don't feel so good after two full pints, but sometimes you just want a little more, you know? I wish we had half-glasses here too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Two planes, 5 skeins of yarn

So, I overpacked for vacation. I brought three projects.

We headed out from Grand Rapids on Thursday, after a massive storm Wednesday blacked out power to 200,000 western Michiganders (Michigandites?). Not a massive problem usually, we've got lots of flashlights (DH works for the Bunny), and my in-laws have a gas stove and plenty of matches. What we didn't plan for was the well. Without power, they have no water. And since we really wanted to shower before embarking on a two-plane, one-train, one-bus, nearly 24 hour (including time difference) journey, we headed first to my SIL's, who DID have power. And water, being that they live in a subdivision with city water supply.

Squeaky clean, we head out, stopping at Panera for lunch, then the library for Audrey (she spent the week with Grandma and Grandpa), then the GR airport, about an hour away. At the airport, I realize I left my fleece jacket at the SIL's. Sigh. No way to get it now.

Quick flight to O'Hare, then board the plane to Manchester. I pull out project one, Tidal Wave Socks by SWTC. I didn't actually bring the pattern with me - I memorized the lace pattern before I left. Yeah, right. And while looking for the link for the free pattern just now, I see that it has disappeared. I sure hope I downloaded it somewhere.

As you can see here, I'm getting serious pooling issues with this yarn. I'm sure its because I'm working at 72 sts/round. The pattern is suggested on size 2 needles/64 sts per round, but I prefer the fabric I get on size 1 needles.

I realized at this point (day 2 of trip) that I have not successfully memorized the lace pattern. Meh.

We arrived in Keswick, Cumbria and checked into our B&B, Cranford House. We were way early for check-in, but we had emailed ahead to Carol, the owner, and she got our room ready early for us. Except for the air and land travel, the entire trip was organized by Mickledore Travel. I can't say enough good things about the company. We've never been to the UK before, and they were so helpful. They run inn-to-inn self-guided hiking tours around England. They booked all the B&B's, provided TOPO maps with our route highlighted, detailed written instructions to accompany the maps, and moved our luggage each day to the next B&B. This is civilized hiking! We also arranged for a bag lunch each day from the B&B, so we just packed up our suitcases, left them in the hall, and headed out on the trails. When we reached the next B&B, our suitcases were waiting for us, along with dry clothes, a hot shower, and pot of tea.

Being a tea drinker, I really fell in love with England. They make much better tea there than we have here.

Friday (first full day in England) was actually sunny, so we wandered around Keswick and tried to stay awake to avoid the jet lag on Saturday, first day of hiking. Cute town. From the looks of it, there are only three types of businesses in this town. 1. Own a B&B. 2. own a restaurant. 3. own an outdoor-outfitter store (hiking/camping/climbing supplies). But this suited us just fine.
We walked down to the lake. We saw sheep. Unaware that we would see many, many more sheep before the end of our vacation, we took pictures.

In retrospect, this was a good idea. These were the last dry sheep we saw for the next 6 days.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Houston, we have a problem

After knitting mucho-many rounds on the Starghan for Michelle's baby-to-be, I proudly cast off, certain I had discovered the secret to a knitted 5-point-star afghan. After all, 99% of all starghans on Ravelry are crocheted. Could it simply be that no knitter had bother to see this adorable afghan? Had I really been the first to figure it out? I could publish the pattern! People would link to me! I would be a star (pun intended) in the knitted baby afghan world.

Alas, it was not to be.

It is a royal disaster. Perhaps someone out there knows a jellyfish in need of a burqa? A basketball in need of a wig? Because this is more than a little gauge issue.

Upon closer examination (and by closer, I mean I dug through my desk until I found my old protractor), I found that the internal angle of each "arm" of the star is 60 degrees. 60 degrees is the required angle for a 6-point star, not 5. 5 needs 72 degrees. Believe it or not, I did swatch. But I only swatched what I thought was 1/5 of the star - and it looked pointy, like it should work just fine. I did not measure the actual angle. My bad.

I think I've figured out the ratios to make a 5 point star. Time to frog and try again. The pressure's on now. Baby is due in only 2 months, and I want to make a gift for her 1 year-old as well.

Updates on my vacation to the land of sheep next time. (Teaser - I did pack three projects for a 10 day trip. I finished 50% of two of them, and ~25% of the third.)