Monday, 29 December 2008

Super secret knitting

My most ambitious piece of christmas knitting was very well recieved, which was a big relief to say the least. The idea was started at the end of November, when we called in at New Lanark Mill on the way home from Sheffield. Francis was very impressed with the wool, and chose some Gritstone coloured Aranweight as his favoured colour. I was thinking of making him a cobblestone out of it, but at this point had no intention of giving it to him for chirstmas.

Then he went to shetland and came back having bought me some lovely hand dyed shetland yarn, and I started thinking silly thoughts. I swatched for a cobblestone, got the gauge first time, and then started thinking that as I had maternity leave starting I might be able to get it finished in time. So I started manically knitting on Cobblestone at every opportunity, encouraging him to go out for days in the hills to give me more knitting time. By the start of my one week's leave, I had done the body up to the armpits and started a sleeve. Between visits to the hospital/midwife and other christmas related errands, I knit and knit and knit (between 9 and 5 while he was at work) and by the Friday I had a completed jumper. The yoke seems to take forever though.............

At this point, I realised that I was going to have to block it in secret as well.... which was going to be a lot harder to achieve. I dunked it in some water (baby baths are very useful for this) and left it with some soak while I thought about it a little, deciding that there was so much clutter in the baby room that the jumper could be laid on the floor under the cot and disguised with stuff. Following a lot of rinsing (the first soak water was a very dark peaty brown) the jumper was duely laid out under the cot (this means that the blocking is by no means as good as it might have been) and left. It took forever to dry, but by the 23rd it was finally done. Phew.

It was all worth it - he likes the jumper (his first knitted gift), was totally surprised to see his yarn knitted up, and has worn it ever since........

Vital Statistics:
Pattern - Cobblestone by Jared Flood in Interweave Knits

Size - Smallest (39" chest)

Needles - 4.5mm circulars

Yarn - New Lanark Aran, in Gritstone. approx 6.5 skeins.

Comments - the yarn softens a lot on blocking, but still makes a very rugged and wooly garment. Perfect for a very warm sweater, but I wouldn't want to wear it next to the skin. The first wash produced some very dark brown water which surprised me a bit as the wool is a natural colour, but the water was running clear after about 5 rinses and no staining was left on the towel I blocked on. The pattern is great - clear and easy to execute, simple, plain and perfect for Francis. I knit it exactly as written, but if I was to make a slight modification I might make were I to knit it again would be to cast on slightly fewer stitches at the cuffs and do more increasing, but I think it fits fine as it is so I might not!

All in all I am more inspired to knit for the man in my life than I have been for a long time, and this project has left smiles all round!

Saturday, 13 December 2008

3 Things

There are 3 things that are making me very happy indeed.

1. I have finally finished work - maternity leave is fantastic and I am suddenly getting into the whole christmas spirit!

2. My Winter Cottage Mitten kit has arrived. I ordered the bonfire colourway, and wanted to cast on straight away, but got the yarn in a right tangle when I was winding it. My husband has now sorted that out for me and I can cast on with a clear consience because...

3. I have just finished my Coraline, and it fits. It needs blocking, but I think I might be in love, or alternatively overexcited because it is the first new item of clothing I have had in quite a few months. I have high hopes for this being an excellent transition garment in the pregnant / after birth department.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Spiral Hat

Well - several christmas presents have been made and mostly dispatched! I'm 99% certain that my brother doesn't even know I have a blog, so I thought I'd show his on here even though it is well before christmas.

I asked my Husband to kindly do the modelling, when we went for a walk a couple of weeks ago, in Moniak woods, which really are very nice if you happen to be in the area.

Some statistics:

Yarn - Jamieson and Smith DK, Black, held double. For the contrast colour I used less than one ball of Kureyon, carefully selecting the portion of yarn I knit with so that I missed out the pale pink.

Needles - 4.5mm and 5mm Knitpicks

Pattern - My own. It is a very simple hat, with a bit of a rib at the bottom and then spiral stripes above. The decreases were worked offset from each other so that the spiral remained unbroken at the top.

It's a great leftovers hat, but it is quite wooly so those with sensitive foreheads might want to think about giving it some sort of lining.

The weather has taken a distinct turn since then, and much of the area now looks like this:

It's freezing down to sea level, there is some snow higher up, but the sun shone (even though it did set at 3.30) and it's nice and clear. And it's forecast to stay that way for a good while. Time to hole up with the heating up and finish the last sleeve of my Coraline.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008


So, it's been a while since I have managed to co-ordinate me, a camera, someone to take a photo and some half decent weather into the same place at the same time!

But anyway, my new favourite hat is definatly porom!

Now, you'll notice that I didn't manage to co-ordinate a good hair day as well, but I'm trying not to be too picky!
Some finished object statistics:
Pattern - Porom from Brooklyntweed
Needles - 3.75 and 4.5mm Knitpicks Options
Alterations - First, because I had enough yarn, I knit 6" of pattern before starting the decreases. The hat looked ridiculous (but quite amusing if worn in the Henry VIII fashion). So I frogged and made it 5.5", but that still was a bit large, and eventually found that 5" produced an acceptable amount of slouch. I must have a very small volumed head, not that I have ever noticed before.
I love the hat though, I can wear it and it doesn't squash my hair. In a not so flattering look, it covers my ears when it is really cold. It lives in my handbag and is always available should the weather take a turn for the colder - by the time these photos had been taken I had been wearing it/ carrying it round for a good couple of years and the yarn is holding up well.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Not so instant

Ok - so knitting my Porom only took me 2 days.

Getting round to blocking it took another, and then because it went all cold and wet it took 3 days to dry.

And then I found out that even though the gauge was right, I obviously have a very small head. Wearing it slouchy was just silly, though my husband put it on and then spent a very amusing evening doing Henry VIII impressions.

So I frogged it and made is shorter (by about and inch) than indicated by the pattern, and it was still a bit big. Still too big, but definatly an improvement. So I frogged it again, and made it another half an inch shorter and this time the pre-blocking tryout indicates that I might just get the right amount of slouch. At least it might look something like the picures tell me!

On the plus side, the yarn is standing up very well to frogging, considering it is a very loosely spun singe, and the pattern is dead easy to remember by the time you have already knit it twice.

Coraline is also progressing - I have added waist shaping (to give me something to measure progress as much as for aesthetic reasons) and have stopped knitting to do the sleeves. I decreased 4 stitches in a row, every 8 rows 5 times, and then increased back up to the origional stitch count.

I am about 4" down the first one, and it is going slowly. At this point I need to pause and consider if I really want to have puffy sleeves, or something a bit more shaped, and that all ties in with how I am going to finish off the bottom of the body and it is all too much of a decision.

Options are:

1 - Continue sleeves puffy, knit the bottom as in the pattern (i.e. knit some extra length and fold over, whip stitching onto the inside). Like in this great example made out of gorgeous posh yarn.

2 - Add some decreases to the sleeves, so they have a bit of ease but not that much at the bottom, so a garterstitch border to both the sleeves and body. Like the border on this...

3 - As per option 2 but doing the foldy over hem at the bottom of the sleeves and the body. Like this....

4 - Something really clever that I haven't managed to think of yet (but definatly not having 3/4 length sleeves).

All the above links are to Ravelry - if you don't have an account then get one, it's great.

I am currently leaning towards option 2, it's nice and easy, gives a good edge and will I think look better on me than having puffy sleeves.

Saturday, 20 September 2008


So - Coraline is progressing well, the yoke is nearly done, but it's seeming to take a very long time to knit and I need somthing a little bit more instant as well.
Last weekend I was down in Edinburgh staying with a friend, and managed to fit in a trip to K1. This shop is small, but we a lovely selection of stuff and so of course I was tempted. They also serve tea, which is delicious (Apple loves Ginger was a total winner). A lot of what I bought is desitned to be christmas presents, but I did sneak in a skein of Scrumptious DK from Fyberspates in a lovely shade called electric blue, thinking along the lines of a hat or maybe neckwarmer for me at some point. The yarn is a very loosely spun silk/merino mix, so strokeably soft and shiny that I wound it into a ball just for the excuse of being able to fondle it a bit more.
Then when a few days later Brooklyntweed published his pattern Porom, I was totally inspired and cast on and wound the yarn.

A couple of hours later and I have already made visible progress.
I cast on using an old pair of addi turbo lace needles that I haven't used for a while, and compared to my Knitpicks the cables are so stiff. I was glad to be able to change after the first 1.5" of ribbing. I am now seriously considering a set of harmonies just to keep all my metal tips company!
Anyway, off to knit some more.....

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

On Making Life HARD

OK, if you want to add some complications to your life take one perfectly clear, well written pattern and instead of just getting on and knitting it, decide to do it upside down. I am proceeding thus with my Coraline.

The main reason for knitting top down, is that I am really unsure if I have enough yarn. I am also a bit off on the row gauge, so want to be able to block and try on as I am going along.

In between time, I have realised that there is a fairly significant colour difference between some of my skeins. Of course I realised this when I had done the first swap, so that meant ripping out back to the start again. It was worth it in the end though....

I think I have cracked the yoke now though - and if anyone else is thinking about doing this here are some notes on what I have done.....

Cast on - I used the cast on described for the sleeves for the top of the neck. The pattern tells you how many stitches are left before the cast off, and I picked up 6 fewer than this along the I-cord, with the 3 stitches of the I-cord at each end making up the rest. The result is nice and neat and clean!

Smock 2 together - for the upside down of smock2tog, (I guess you could call it smock increase) I have been doing the following: purl up to the knit stitch, make on by knitting into purl loop at the back of the stitch below, slip the knit stitch onto the left hand needle, wrap the yarn round both stitches, slip both stitches back onto the right hand needle and then knit them. All other increases were worked in the same manner (either purling or knitting into the stitch below to the left or right depending on the location of the increase)

Short row shaping round the neck - the pattern has row by row stitch counts, so it is easy to work out how many repeats of the first set of smock increases you need. I needed 10 (worked out by looking at how stitches are decreased on the last row) and marked these out with stitch markers. I worked the first set of short rows to just beyond the stitch markers, the second 1 repeat beyond this and the third 2 repeat beyond this, with the wrap and turns placed in the reverse stockinette stretches.

The rest of the pattern is fairly easy to knit by just following the instructions backwards!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Re-discovered Enthusiasm!

It is amazing how much knitting I suddenly got done when there was a dealine. Entering the Ravelympics was a stroke of genius that gave a new sense of purpose to everything. Up until that point, I had been picking up my Tangled Yoke every couple of days and half heartedly knitting a few rows, but there was no exitement to the process. It was just something I did every so often, there was no exitment, no urge to finish and find out if the final product matched expectations. It was lovely that, for once, the final product exceeded all reasonable hope andturned out to be lovely.

My Tangled Yoke cardigan is still wonderful; the most wearable thing I have made ever. I have been wearing it a lot of the time since it was finished, and it is holding up fantastically. It hasn't stretched, it hasn't gone saggy, it still fits. I might reinforce the button and neckband with a bit of ribbon to give it a little bit more stability, thoughthat is a long way down on the list of things I might do one day given infinite time and resources.

The Flutter scarf for my Mum is also lovely, and I have bravely resisted wearing it so far. The colours are so bright and clear and lovely - the photos in the last post were a little bleached by the sun (but hey, when the sun shines I'm not going to complain). I have bought some lovely tissue paper and tonight I am going to parcel it up ready for taking it to her next weekend so that the temptation is removed; though I'm not sure how to fold those lovely flutters.

So after those frantic 2 weeks of focus, I floudered to a complete halt. What was I going to knit next? I thought about picking up my holiday cardigan again, but I need to design the sleeves and the thought of sleeve cap maths makes my brain hurt. I have got it out again though and next time I have a quiet couple of hours I will do said maths and start the knitting again.

So I spent a bit of time surfing things to make that are going to be nice and versatile with a growing bump, but still be wearable thereafter. The two options that I favoured were Coraline and the ever so popular February Lady Sweater. As I am uninspired by yarn shopping at the moment, I cast through the stash and found a big pile of this:

That's Shilasdair Luxury Dk, and it appears that I have 520g of it. It's lovely, a sort of slatey french blue that is so nearly grey and the blend of cashmere, angora and lambswool is soft and quite drapey but still feels remarkably durable. Given that the website claims 300m/100g,there should be just enough to make a Coraline, though it is going to be a very close run thing. I am seriously going to look into the possiblity of knitting this top down because I'm not sure that sort of exitement is good for my nerves.

Swatches have been knit, both on 3.5mm (felt quite stiff and sturdy) and4mm (more drape) and have been blocked. The gauge is just about right in the 4mm swatch, and so I am going to start soon!

Monday, 25 August 2008

Finished Photos!

So there was a brief window where the sun came out this afternoon, and we grabbed a few photos of my flutter scarf.

Vital details:

Pattern - Flutter Scarf from Mimknits

Yarn - Posh Yarn Eva 4ply, about 160g. This yarn is divine - it is soft and at this gauge drapes fantastically. It also smells of really lovely woodsmoke! My mum chose the colours when we were at Wonderwool Wales earlier this year.

Needles - 3.25mm Knitpicks circulars

Modifications - I did some extra repeats of the main pattern, a total of 130 instead of the 100 directed in the pattern. I had enough yarn so thought I might as well.

This photo is the most accurate of the colours. A glorious blend of reds, apricot, greens, sunshine yellow, brick, purple.

I love this combination of yarn and pattern. The wide blocks of stockinette (9 stitches) show the variation of the colours beautifully. The simple lace panels and the elegant flutters at the bottom of the scarf lift it from a plain knit to something that is graceful and elegant and interesting. It is the perfect sort of pattern for this sort of yarn, as I think all that fantastic colour blending would be lost in a more complicated lace affair.

And it's a nice quick (took me 2 weeks of not that dedicated knitting) to finish and I think my mum is going to love it! For once I am finished a whole 3 weeks ahead of time rather than frantically trying to dry the thing in time to send it off.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Mmmmm - blueberries

Well - it's the end of the olympics, and I have managed to finish both my intended projects. My Flutter scarf is now blocking, and I still need to darn in the ends, but is dark and all the photos were dismal failures.

Today I was distracted from knitting. In fact, at the moment I am in a sort of between projects quandry. Inspired by the success of my Tangled Yoke (which I wore the whole time I was on holiday and it was much admired - I love it) I want to make more cardigans. The two I am having a dilemma about are either Coraline by Ysolda, or the very famous February Lady Sweater. Both in a style I wouldn't normally choose, neither of which I have the right yarn for. I have enough yarn for a couple of things but I need to design them first. Sigh. Not feeling that mathematical at the moment.

But anyway, the distraction for today was:

We went to our favourite blueberry picking spot, and managed to collect 1.65 kg, before the midges got the better of us and we were driven away. There were LOADS of blueberries, they were big and juicy for scottish hill ones as well. All the rain we have been having recently must have had a good effect on them. It astounds me that no-one else seems to have picked them. We didn't wander more than about 5m from the path up a fairly popluar hill, and we didn't get more than 15 minutes walk from the car part. One woman even stopped to ask us what we were picking (urr, hello, have you not been to the fruit and veg section of your supermarket recently??) and was astounded to hear our plans.

A bit of boiling later, with the help of lots of added sugar, and we had jam!

I can now hear the sound of all the lids popping as the vacuum forms, and it is very satisfying. We need to find a source of more jam jars, because our reccy of the best blackberry spot shows that there are going to be lots and lots in a week or two, and I haven't had bramble jelly for years!

Sunday, 10 August 2008


Yey - a sense of jubilation! I have finished my Tangled Yoke, and it is fantastic. It even fits. This is by far and away the most wearable cardigan I have ever knitted, and I love it to bits.

Facts and figures:

Pattern - Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang, in Autumn 2007 Interweave knits magazine. I love it. I knit it almost without modification, though my gauge was a little off. But I was making a size intended to have 3" ease round the bust (46" size), but calculations showed that with my gauge I would have 0 - 1 inch and so I didnt change the pattern. The only change I made was to the neck and button band. I cast off at the top of the cardigan and did the both button bands and the neck band in , with mitred corners, casting off at the end. Mostly I couldn't figure out how to make the join between the neck and button bands look neat as written in the pattern.

Yarn - Knitwitches Alpaca merino blend that I bought at Wonderwool. This yarn was fantastic value at £5 a 100g skein. It is black alpaca blended with a dark brown merino, light stretchy and with a lovely haze. The fabric has come out lovely and stretchy too, and the cables show up nicely. It blooms fantastically on blocking. I think the advertised yardage was a little off, as I have used 360g of yarn, and have enough left over to make the whole thing again.

Needles - 3.25mm knitpicks circulars, 2.75mm for the button bands.

Me with a silly expression - just concerntrate on the cables please!

And side on! The reason for it not quite fitting round the waist is becoming increasingly evident - once this ravelympics is over it is going to be time to break out the baby knitting. I is due at the start of january.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


It seems like ages and ages and ages until the olympics start! I am still knitting my tangled yoke, and am drooling at the thought of casting on in some lovely bright coloured yarn and knitting some lace.

There are going to be those mesemerising moments when the yarn colour changes and you get to see how it lines up with the previous row, the flutter scarf is going to have a nice simple easy to follow lace pattern. I have really high hopes for it looking very good indeed in a variagated yarn - not something I normally chose for lace. But this pattern has fairly large blocks of stocking stitch broken up by lace, so there is some nice lacy openness, but enough solid inbetween to make the most of the divine posh yarn eva.

I am so exited about the thought of starting, but as it is a ravelympics challenge am waiting (not very patiently) until the start of the olympic games, to join in what hopes to be the largest mass cast on ever! I have wound two skiens of yarn, which will be more than enough, and they are just sitting there taunting me.

On the subject of the tangled yoke, I have finished my 4" of plain stocking stitch, and am tackling the cabled yoke. I had an absoloute nightmare getting the set up row right. Aparantly, though I have a degree in engineering, 10 years experience of designing foundations and doing sums, 2 A-levels in Maths and grade 8 cello, I am incapable of counting to 10 reliably 24 times. What a dunce.

After 3 attempts at getting the startup row right, with frogging and much counting of stitches inbetween (given my lack of ability in the counting to 10 department, it wasn't entirely surprising that my counting to 276 didn't fare any better), I gave in. I tore up lots of bits of scrap yarn, and put in a marker for every pattern repeat along the row. I then counted, got my husband to check my counting, put the jumper down in disgust, adjusted the markers one last time and then went to bed. The next morning I managed to achieve in 20 minutes, what had taken all of my Saturday afternoon.

I thoroughly recommend the use of stitch markers made of yarn, for where you have to do odd things every 10 stitches with nothing to follow. I didn't realise quite how much of my memorising of a lace pattern involves identifying the correct stitch on the row below and matching the pattern.

Once the cabling was established it was easy to follow the right side rows, but much harder to follow the increases which are done on the wrong side rows. I left the stitch markers in and they were invaluable. I have one more very busy row to go and then it is definatly downhill towards the finishing line! There is only a little bit more yoke to go and then button bands and buttons.

Thouh the ravelympics is restricting my casting on, it has meant that there is going to be no dithering at all over what knitting to take with me on holiday - I have 2 projects that I am on a mission to finish. I hope to have lots of fun lovely finished things to show you all when I get back.

Friday, 1 August 2008

Long time... much fun

Well, there is lots and lots to say.
I have been knitting again, and I am so glad to actually feel that I want to pick up the needles. Round and round and round in stocking stitch (until I got dizzy). This means that I have finished the sleeves on my tangled yoke, and they have been joined to the body. I was nearly giddy with exitement at this point, because I was having dreams of interlocking cables and exitement and somethat that wasn't stocking stitch. Then I read the instructions and it said 'work in stockinette until yoke measures 4"'. 4"!!!! That is a lot of stocking stitch, when you consider that I have 360 stitches on the needles and something like 36 rows to knit. And I do have very broad shoulders, so I was thinking of adding an extra half an inch into this bit to compensate. I am now resigned to going back and forth for a good while yet, but I might swatch the cable beforehand to give me some exitement. I did take some photos, but none of them had any merit and it still looks like a bundle of dark stocking stitch.

I have been looking to the future though - my next thing is going to be the Flutter Scarf (it seems only appropriate). My mum chose some lovely posh yarn eva at woolfest, and I am going to make it for her birthday.

Seeing as her birthday is in September, I need to get my arse in gear. To help with the motivation for this one, I have entered the ravelympics lace weight long jump (sorry for those who aren't on ravelry, but do sign up you know you want to). To give some urgency to the quest for finishing tangled yoke, I have entered that in the Wip wrestling as well. I hereby state that the aim is to finish both of these by the end of the olympics. Gulp.

So here's some eye candy for you:

This isn't my photo - but was taken this weekend by a friend while we were camping on the beach at Morar. It was great, a fire, marshmallows, fantastic sunset, sandy deserted beach, swimming in the sea, so just about the perfect weekend.

I also had a week off on my own - attending Tai Chi Caledonia. It was a great week, not so many parties for me as last year, but meeting up with old friends and making lots of new ones. Learning lots that was really interesting, and having plenty of time to reflect on things. A perfect pick me up week!

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Reunited with my books

Two mammoth unpacking days later, I have been reunited with my all my books. They just about fit onto the shelves, and I am really enjoying sitting here looking at them and reading things I haven't seen for years. Two boxes have been put aside to be taken to a charity shop, and my spare recent stash fills the whole middle cupboard. Oops. My dear husband wasn't at all impressed with that.

Just to prove a point, I have totally tidied the sitting room. I even swept under the sofa!

This is by far the tidiest room of the house, but I am quite inspired to carry this through, so I think the dining room is going to be next.
And the sleeve is progressing in fits and starts - only another 2" to go until I have finished this one, and then I can start the next one. Then only 4" of knitting round and round the really long rows until the interesting bit!

Sunday, 6 July 2008


What a difference a holiday makes! We have been caming in the lake district for a week, and it was fantastic. I am feeling quite revitalised.

We went climbing:

We played pooh sticks:

We hid in the tent between the heavy showers and thunderstorms, that lead to fantastic photo opportunities:

We found mines to explore (this is Force Crag Mine - you can get in the top, google revealed a map):

And, I have started knitting again. This is an enormous relief, and mostly due to visiting woolfest. Actually, I had a lovely time at woolfest - I didn't spend much at all (my only purchase was a lovely skein of self striping sock yarn from Jen at Fibrespates) but just wandering round all those stalls looking at fantastic things and stroking wool and smelling sheep was just so insirational. So I got out my tangled yoke cardigan a few times, and have finished the body up to the armpits, and made most of the first sleeve. The I only have to finish 4" of body before I get to the 20 exiting rows. But it is good knitting to pick up when there are little kiddies running around and you can't concentrate that much. I'll save the photos for a while, because it doesn't look a whole lot different to the last time I took them!

And my main distraction at home is nearly finished:

This is the current state of the bookshelves in my sitting room. I have been putting gloss paint on these for quite a while now, but I am finally on the last litle bit. I am looking forward to the paint drying so that I can finally unpack all our books and put them away. The last boxes from when we moved - only 3 years late, which isn't bad considering!

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Sad week

Well, on Monday I went to a colleagues funeral. It was very sad, but I took great comfort from the ceremony (humanist celebrants really are worth their weight in gold). He was great - fun, kind, gentle, great fishing stories and advice, hilarious aversion to lapsang suchong (and an amazing ability to smell it fro 50 paces). He met an untimely end in the hills while walking with some others from the office.

So this one goes out to you, JB. We'll all miss you.

And on that note, and becuase I haven't done any knitting for a good while, I might take a short break (though I will be back - promise) until I have something interesting to say or some good photos to show!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

More holiday photos....... Mingulay

So - after 3 days on Pabbay, Donald returned to the island and transferred us the couple of miles down to Mingulay. The first day there was the only bad weather, it rained for about 5 hours in the afternoon, and I sat in the tent and read my book, had lots of naps and then just in time for cooking it magically brightened up.

So the next morning we woke up to another day of brilliant sunshine, and the campsite looked lovely. We went on a little explore round to the peninsula to the north - where the puffins were reputed to be nesting. It's the one you can see on the other side of the bay from the campsite!

So it was down for a little explore in the ruins of Mingulay village. Quite a few people used to live on Mingulay, but it was abandonded due to the lack of a decent landing place which meant they would often go months without being able to get a boat to or from the island.

And the view back accross the bay - if anything it was the more spectacular than the one on Pabbay. The only thing that was spoiling it a little bit was the remains of a rotting whale that floated in and out of the beach for the week. It didn't smell that much, and was mostly white blubber with the most amazing consistency. If you (very gingerly) poked it with a stick the whole thing would wobble!

This is the main puffin nesting site on the island, but the weather was so hot that they were either rafted up on the sea or staying in their burrows. I was inconsolable.

But on the other side of the island. Instead of the puffins there were really big crashing Atlantic waves to watch from the top of the cliffs.

The next day we took the kayaks out to bother some puffins while they were rafting. They were great!

When they come in to land on the water they sort of flap madly until they are just above where they want to sit, then stall and just drop under the water. Then they re-emerge looking a bit surprised - though why the standard landing procedure should be a shock every time is beyond me!

So here is my favourite puffins on the sea photo - they all conveniently lined up and swam away looking comical.

Puffins taking off are almost as funny as puffins landing. They flap and flap and get their wings wet, then run along the surface of the water with their big orange feet until they get to the top of a wave and then finally manage to break free. I could watch them for hours.

The next day, the wind was right down, and we grabbed the opportunity to paddle over to Berneray. Berneray is the very very southern tip of the chain of islands, and is amazing. There will be a photo edition for this bit of the trip sometime soon, but we were running short of battery at this point and so the pictures of puffins and lighthouses are on a CD on their way to me!

But there was enough juice left for a couple of shots of the way back! The sun came out from behind the morning haze the minute we landed and didn't leave until we went home.

And then it was time to depart. It was a sad and traumatic parting, but we were running very low on food so on balance it was time to go. We had a really funny night camped on a verge in Castlebay, next to the ferry and right next to the refrigerated lorry and came on every half hour to charge the batteries. But the pub meal totally made up for it and the sticky toffee pudding and icecream was divine. The locals know how to have a good time on a saturday, so everyone got the wrong side of tiddly and some of the others were spotted dancing with the local talent when we left for bed!

I can't say I am glad to be back, it was a lovely lovely holiday, in fact one of the best I have ever had. It totally reinforces the fact that holidays don't have to be expensive (less than £200 each including food!) and that staying near to home can bring fantastic rewards. Work sucks, and I want to be out fishing in the sun with my boat and all the puffins. But it's only another couple of weeks until we are next away (the lake district for a week's camping and quite probably dropping in for Woolfest on saturday), but it is going to be very very hard to top this one.

I will also now confess that though I did take my knitting with me, I didn't take it out and I haven't picked it up since I have been back. I'm getting into the swing of DIY, and there is progress on the bookcase at long last.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Holiday Snaps - Pabbay edition

Well, we had a fantastic time! The weather was mostly gorgeous, and the holiday was just great.

This is the boat journey out to Pabbay. We were taken round by the wonderful Donald on his boat the Boy James, the engines were very big and powerful, and it was great fun to go so fast.

And then we were put onto an even smaller boat, and all our stuff was transferred to shore. It seemed like an enormous pile of stuff to lug, but in actual fact the photo makes it seem almost small. Trust me, it was a lot of stuff for 9 people and a dog for a week!

And this is a view of Pabbay Bay from just up the hill to the south. You might be able to just see our tents on the grassy patch just in front of the beach. It was a lovely place to camp - soft grass, sea views from the tent, high enough above the beach to get a little bit of breeze to keep the midges off......... Perfect.

This is a veiw from the very north of the island towards mingulay - it was a lovely walk exploring little crags, sitting in the sun, watching the birds, spotting flowers......

And admiring the very very very big cliffs. They come up on you very surprisingly and are absoloutly stunning.

This lovely little fellow came to sit on the rocks just below our campsite for the for a couple of evenings. He was amazingly unfazed by us all going along to admire his cuteness, and white fluffieness, and taking lots of photos.

There was lots of kayaking, it was lovely having them down there on the beach so that you could just jump in whenever you felt like it. It is so much easier when you don't have to put them onto the car and then unload them.

And here is an attempt at artiness on the beach (though it needs a bit of photoshop to make it straight)

And some more big cliffs, this time on the west of the island with some pretty thrift in the foreground.

One more installment coming from Mingulay, which will mostly feature puffins!