Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl :: my Blacker Tales shawl

blacker breeds pure shetland dk by annie claire shawl mkal mystery kal dk shetland lace shawlForest Poppy Blacker Tales Shawl small Tales from the Isle of Purbeck shawl smallI’m so pleased to welcome the New Year with a finished project – my Tales from the Isle of Purbeck Shawl.  Or, as I’m calling it my Blacker Tales shawl – the yarn is gorgeous natural Shetland wool from Blacker Yarns and I like the corruption of the shawl and yarn names to give Blacker Tales!

I knit the shawl as part of a Mystery Knit Along (MKAL). I’m not sure when I first became aware of the MKAL, but I think I was drawn by the fact that the designer Annie Rowden (by Annie Claire) was encouraging the use of single-source British yarn.  I have a definite connection to the idea of using yarn which hasn’t travelled too far, which is from a know source and which hasn’t had too much treatment while going from sheep to yarn.

I wasn’t able to get any of the Hole and Sons yarn that the pattern was designed for but was very happy to buy undyed Shetland wool from Blacker Yarns. The colour is Katmogit – a Katmogit/Katmoget Shetland sheep is described as ‘having a light coloured body with dark belly and a moget face, the reverse of Gulmoget’ – it is a beautiful warm stoney grey. I don’t see the Katmogit colour on the website at the moment – the closest currently available is a blend called mid-grey.

Knitting this shawl was a definite learning experience.  I found the lace pattern tricky at first, there was a lot of ripping out and puzzling over where I had gone wrong, but part-way through clue 2 I got the hang of it and it became much more enjoyable!  I didn’t have enough wool left to finish the last repeat and ran so short I couldn’t manage the bind-off either – I did play chicken and try binding-off (ever-optimistic!) but had to accept the obvious and un-do the binding about half-way through.  Then I had a hunt through my stash and found some Rowan British Sheep Breeds DK undyed BFL Marl (left over from knitting Katie’s snake – Mr Snakey is still going strong and gets a lot of play).  It work’s quite well I think and although I’d have preferred to finish it ‘properly’ I just couldn’t justify buying another ball of wool.

All the details are over here on Ravelry.


I’m looking forward to all that 2016 will bring.  I’m certain it will be busy and I’m hoping there will be lots of time out in the woods, beach and hills as well as in the garden.  I’m off to a busy start sewing-wise but nothing that I can share just yet unfortunately.

Thank you, as always, for your visits and comments here in the last year.  I do love to hear from you and truly appreciate your time in stopping by to comment.  Wishing you a happy healthy 2016.  Here’s to a good one!

Stac Pollaidh

North to the summit of Stac Pollaidh

Summit of Stac Pollaidh


Looking south Sgorr Tuath and Loch Lugainn    Up! West along Loch LugainnHappy ~ manic ~ wee dog SuilvenSouth to the car far below Me on Stac Pollaidhlooking south Gruinard Bay Gruinard BayLoch Ewe Loch Ewe late summer wildflowersAll the way back in September John and I had a wonderful walk up Stac Pollaidh.  It was a special trip – we think it was the first time we have been up a hill together, alone, since before the children came along.  Given that we met over a shared love of hills and mountains (while walking in Peru) it was so good to head off together for some time in the hills.

My dad very kindly came up and looked after the children for 24 hours and we set off late afternoon to Ullapool on the West coast.  We took part in the traditional Ullapool evening entertainments – eating seafood and listening to live music at the Ceilidh Place.  Last time I stayed overnight in Ullapool I was a student on a hillwalking trip with friends, which seems like a very long time ago now……..and I do remember the weather was somewhat different, we had incredible warm dry days for walking and long, light evenings for sitting on the seafront drinking beer.

The following morning we woke up to a howling gale which scuppered any thoughts we’d had of a good big hillwalk.  Stac Pollaidh seemed like a good alternative, it is a proper little mountain in it’s own right but is really is quite wee by Scottish standards.  It is made quick and easy with the Achiltibuie road passing directly beneath, there’s no need to walk in for miles skirting other hills, or to head up and over numerous false summits.  This accessibility does have downsides though as it is a very heavily visited hill and has suffered consequently from erosion but the expertly-constructed and fairly new path, put in by Scottish Natural Heritage I think, is doing a great job of keeping walkers from causing further damage and is helping the damaged slopes to repair.

You’ll see from the photos that Stac Pollaidh has a jagged rocky crest made of Torridonian sandstone*. There’s a great scramble along this ridge which includes the actual summit……..but conditions were so windy we had to settle for just skirting the summit.  Although it was cloudy and overcast, and raining quite heavily most of the way down, we had superb views – the striking mountain in the photo below a rather manic looking Susie-dog is Suilven (another small-ish but special mountain).

We took the longer scenic route home via Gairloch, which was new to John, with some stops to admire the scenery along the way.  The big sandy bay is Gruinard Bay (and the infamous Gruinard Island…….site of anthrax biological warfare testing during WWII).  The rocky coastline is Loch Ewe.  We had a potter and fabulous coffee and cakes in the Mountain Company and Bookstore in Gairloch (cakes, coffee and books in a beautiful location – very hard to beat!) before heading home to a happy household where there had been lots fresh air and Grandy treats, thank you Grandy!

Catching up

sea collage woodland collageIt turns out that having an extension built is pretty time consuming.  The last 3 months have slipped by in a blur of organising, clearing up, walking down the corridor sideways (that particular aspect wore thin very quickly!) and painting (we did all the decorating ourselves, which is great – it saved lots of money and we’ve done a pretty good job – I did everything bar the ceilings and John manfully took on that particularly unpleasant job)……but, given that we have very busy lives anyhow and I have very few child free hours, that took up pretty much any time I could have spared for sewing or gardening or managing to exercise more than once every 10 days or so.  But it is finished now and all the children have a room of their own for the very first time.  We love it and feel incredibly lucky to have been able to expand our home.  That, topped off with living in an area which feels increasingly like home, is very special indeed.

The dogs have been a blessing in disguise (we’re back to being a 2 dog family as my parents are away) – it has felt very time consuming to have to give them a good walk each day but I’m sure it has helped my sanity!  All the photos* in these two collages were taken while out dog walking on a weekday.

islay nd champs collage angus nd champs collagefinn nd champs collage

This last weekend I think we got off very lightly compared to much of the country and certainly the north of England and the Borders.  I do feel for all those people who are suffering.  We had the North District Cross Country Championships and the rain held off while Islay ran as a tiddler in the U11s, and Finn and Angus ran in the U13s.  They all had good runs and, most importantly, had a very good time.  They don’t care about mud, and neither does Katie who had a whale of a time ‘ploring and rolling around in the heather ready to shout when appropriate.  She takes it for granted that she’ll run too just as soon as she’s old enough.  Can you see the start of the U13s race?  It was a very narrow start and there was a fair bit of shuffling around for position beforehand but not too much – the runners are approximately ranked at the startline so the best are more-or-less at the front – but the minute the Starter called ‘on your marks’ their arms were out and they were ready for full-on pushing for position when the gun went off.  What I like so much about cross country running (and most other sports I guess) is that all these children are friends.  They run for different teams, but because they see each other so often and there is also a fair bit of cross-over between teams and schools, they nearly all know each other – they love to socialise and chat afterwards, no matter what position they finish in.

sew and home collage

Now that the house is more or less back in order I can start to think about the lovely piles of fabric I have twaiting for me.  I can’t wait to get started…….hopefully I’ll get some done before Christmas and Islay’s birthday which falls at the end of next week.

How are you?  Do you have any builder or decorating stories to share?  I’d love to know what your best or worst memories are.  I think my abiding memories will be our sideways shuffle up and down the hallway, and the radiator which hung down, rather like a modern art installation, in the middle of our newly knocked through and enlarged utility room for a good 10 days or so.


*I love that all the scenery photos were taken within 10 miles of our home, most were within 1 mile