Let there be light, and acrylic v. silk

We are now the proud owners of a motion-detecting outside light to illuminate the steps and path leading to our front door. If it weren’t for the fact that several internal walls had to be re-plastered late last year to cure rising damp, providing an opportunity to bury electrical cables, we would probably never have done it. After all, we have been here over a quarter of a century and endured many comments from visiting friends and relations during that time about the perilously dark route from the road to the house.

I finished the wiring last weekend, taking a supply from the existing downstairs lighting circuit where it runs under a bedroom floor, while dear husband mounted the new light on the outside wall. We spent an hour one evening trying to decide what height the light should be at by giving it a temporary power supply, hanging it from a cord and then gradually lowering it down the wall while testing its range of detection. The conclusion we came to was that it made precious little difference, so we have put it where we think it looks best. The floorboards and carpet have been re-laid in the bedroom and we are back to normal.

Quaker yarn stretcher shawl

Quaker yarn stretcher shawl

At last week’s meeting of my knitting group one of the others asked to borrow the pattern for a scarf I was wearing, the Quaker Yarn Stretcher. Another member of the group has already knitted the same scarf, and several of us have made a hat and a lacy cowl in the last few months using a pattern that was passed round. Someone will bring in a pattern that is a bit out of the ordinary and, before you know it, we are all knitting it. This generally happens with small things like hats, scarves and bags – it is all too easy to be seduced by an interesting design when you know it will only take a ball or two and you probably have the yarn you’ll need at home already. It’s fascinating to see what several knitters make of the same design with their choices of yarn and their own embellishments.

The trees are mostly in leaf now and the view from almost every window of my house is green as far as the eye can see. Whenever the sun comes out for a brief spell, teenagers, postmen and other mature men who should know better appear in shorts. I even saw an elderly gent in a pale linen suit and a panama hat in Ilkley at the weekend, which is wildly optimistic for early May.

Wharfedale in spring

Wharfedale in spring

It takes Two - finished

It takes Two – finished

I finished my It Takes Two scarf and I think it will be worn quite often to cheer up a plain black top and provide a little warmth around the neck. I used nearly half a ball of yarn, leaving about 460m of the 2 balls I bought, which should be plenty for the Wingspan shawl/scarf I plan to knit. That may have to wait until the autumn, because yesterday I acquired two new sets of yarn.

Firstly, the local council has made some money available for buying yarn to knit bunting for the Tour de France route and to yarn-bomb the towns and villages. I rashly agreed to make use of 400g of it, in white, red and yellow (some of the colours of the tour leaders’ jerseys), plus blue to make French tricolour pennants and Union Jacks. Knitting a Union Jack seems rather complicated and I will stick to tricoleurs, for now at least.

Tour de France bunting

Tour de France bunting

The yarn is garish acrylic, not something I would normally choose to knit, but it is more suitable for all-weather bunting than wool which would surely sag in the rain like a 1920s swimming costume. This morning, being Sunday, I managed to knit a couple of yellow triangles. I haven’t dared weigh them to find out how many more I will have to produce by early July to get through the four large balls of yarn, it would be too dispiriting.

Half the knitters in the county seem to be knitting bunting for the Tour, or white roses. Several of the local Yorkshire in Bloom groups have put yellow-sprayed bikes rescued from rubbish tips at key spots and filled their baskets with suitably-coloured flowers. The race route will look very festive and colourful.

Silk 2-ply yarn

Silk 2-ply yarn

The second lot of new yarn I acquired yesterday was from the Wharfe Wool Fair in Otley. I fell in love with a 1,000m skein of natural-dyed, 100% silk in 2-ply (laceweight) yarn. It is a slightly bluish, apple green and will make a fabulous lace shawl. I don’t exactly have a need for such a luxurious shawl, but knitting it will keep me busy for many weeks and I can always wear it as a scarf if I make a rectangular wrap rather than a triangular piece. I’ve admired a Knitty design called Muir ever since it was first published, and this may well be the yarn for it.

Knitting a lace pattern in slippery silk will be a challenge, but I’d rather spend my time and creative juices on something beautiful than acrylic bunting any day.  Like my gansey, Muir will be the sort of knitting that requires a fair amount of concentration. I must exercise restraint and not cast on until the gansey is finished. I will reach the shoulder of the second side in another few days, and in preparation for that I’ve started to plan the shoulder straps. These create a saddle shoulder/sleeve. They will be knitted top-down and continue down the centre of the sleeves. This means that they will run perpendicular to the body and there is consequently a need to allow for the difference in tension between the stitches of the body and the rows of the straps. Rather than making the adjustment every few rows while connecting each strap to the front and back as it is knitted, I will decrease across the last row of the front and back. I have a concern that this may introduce some tightness, but the only way to find out is to try it.

The Wharfe Wool Fair was well attended and it is to be hoped that it will become an annual event. It was nowhere as big as Yarndale in Skipton, but the quality was good and it fills a woolly gap in this part of the world nicely before Yarndale at the end of September, especially for anyone who feels that the Cockermouth Woolfest in late June is a bit too far to travel to. I heard a rumour that Yarndale may be moved to a different weekend from 2015 to avoid a clash with something or other.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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