Episode 20 – New Year’s Special Edition

Fruity Knitting Podcast Episode 20 is ending 2016 where it all began – we’re going back to Mount Snowdon.  Our guest on Knitters of the World is Nikki from Dark Harbour Yarns.  Andrea shows us her the beginnings of her Catherine Parr by Alice Starmore, and we get what must be one of the last updates on the Hiking Jacket.

Fruity Knitting Podcast - Episode 20 - Click on the image to view

Fruity Knitting Podcast – Episode 20 – Click on the image to view

Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

We tend to take our long holidays in winter.  That started when a lot of Andrea’s work was performing solos at wedding ceremonies.   Each weekend she would dash off to a different town in a some corner of Germany and perform her songs in a beautiful church.  I always thought that her singing changed what might have been a pretty dry ceremony into something utterly beautiful and unforgettable.  Before the actual ceremony there was generally only very limited time to meet the organist and do a quick rehearsal.  The standard of the organists varied greatly.  Some were brilliant, but there were a few occasions where the organist was unprepared, and Andrea had to lead them through the music just minutes before the bride and groom arrived.  Anyway, weddings tended to take place in summer, so we took our vacation in winter.  The habit stuck and now we love it.

Cwm Idwal, Llyn Idwal

Our episode starts on the banks of the lake Llyn Idwal in the Glyderau mountains of Snowdonia in northern Wales.  “Llyn” is the Welsh word for lake, and the first “l” is pronounced like a “c”, so Llyn sounds like Clin.  We also talk about Cwm Idwal, which is the name for the valley.  The “w” in Cwm is kind of a little grunt, sort of like the “e” in “spotted”.

Cwm Idwal in the Snowdonia National Park

Cwm Idwal in the Snowdonia National Park

There are many valleys and lakes like Cwm Idwal and Llyn Idwal all around the Snowdonia area.  Cwm Idwal is easy to reach, actually just a short walk up from the main road.  It is a popular destination for tourists, but also for mountaineers and rock climbers.  It is also a significant site for geologists and botanists.  Charles Darwin visited the site twice, finding evidence of marine creatures in the rocks on his first visit.  Many years later he returned to Cwm Idwal and recognized that the valley had been formed by glacial activity.

As we were recording it was sitting around zero degrees Celsius with a good wind blowing.  You can see Jack running around, keeping himself warm chasing the cheeky seagulls, but during one break he did come and snuggle himself behind us on the rock.  He soon went back to the seagulls.

Mount Snowdon

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales.  There are six major tracks leading to the summit of Mount Snowdon.  In previous years we have stuck to the Llanberis track and the Snowdon Ranger Track.

Snowdon - Pyg Track

Snowdon – Pyg Track

The closing sequence of this episode was filmed on the Pyg Track.  The origin of the name is not clear.  One theory is that the track was used to carry black tar, known as pyg, to the copper mines.  Another theory is that it is named after the Pen y Gwryd Hotel near the beginning of the track.  The name is sometimes capitalized – PYG – probably reflecting this theory.  Edmund Hillary and his team stayed at this hotel during their training on Mount Snowdon and returned their for a reunion after the ascent of Mount Everest in 1953.

We didn’t go on to the summit, but turned back where the Pyg Track meets the Miner’s Track.  Where we filmed, the Pyg Track looks down on the Miner’s Track, which follows the edge of a beautiful lake.  There is a large pipeline coming down from this lake, presumably part of the water supply for the area.  Beside the lake there are the remains of several buildings, probably again going back to the copper mining in the region.  Everything is built in the rock which is found everywhere in the region.

View from the Pyg Track

View from the Pyg Track

As we mentioned on the show, we have had extraordinarily good weather this year.  Last year we were in snow, the walking track was icy, the wind very strong and visibility sometimes very poor.  Even experienced walkers can lose the track and get into trouble.  We don’t mind going out in bad weather, but I like to keep everyone close.

Knitters of the World – Nikki of Dark Harbour Yarn

Nikki Jones of Dark Harbour Yarn is based in Wellington, New Zealand, which may explain the nautical theme she uses to name her yarns. I have always loved the distinction between flotsam and jetsam, but the word “hawser”, meaning a thick rope or cable for mooring or towing a ship, was new to me.  At Dark Harbour Yarn, Hawser is the name given to a fingering weight yarn of Bluefaced Leicester (so you might want to use a double strand if you’re tying up your boat).

Nikki of Dark Harbour Yarn

Nikki of Dark Harbour Yarn

Nikki mentioned the ability to fix up mistakes in knitting, and described the drastic actions she took on her cardigan, cutting, ripping and grafting it, giving her a garment that she loved and a major learning experience along the way.

Nikki's Bug Sweater

Nikki’s “Flies on Me”

One of our viewers has already commented that her daughter is an entomologist and would love Nikki’s bug sweater, Flies on Me.  I love the creativity (“I want a cardigan with bugs on it”), shared expertise (CustomFit by Amy Herzog), and execution (getting the bug design, putting it with the pattern, and then knitting it up).

Positive Ease

Playing with Positive Ease – Michelle Wang

Big thanks to Nikki for being our guest.

Catherine Parr by Alice Starmore

Andrea’s latest project is Catherine Parr by Alice Starmore, from the Tudor Roses collection.  The body is a cable pattern inspired by the oak and plaster building style (in Germany we would call it Stockwerk).  The hem, cuffs and neck are a two colour stranded colourwork inspired by wood panel carvings.  Alice Starmore describes the pattern as suitable for a knitter with average skills.  Andrea is using the recommended yarn from Virtual Yarns, although she replaced the suggested blue with a green (Bogbean) at Madeleine’s request.

There are clearly two styles of fabric – the colourwork and the cables – and there was some confusion with the swatching and gauge between the two.  You might want to do a swatch for each section and check your sizing.

The Hiking Jacket

We are slowly getting there with the Hiking Jacket.  The tip we mentioned related to changing colours during a rib section.  If you simply change colours during a rib section, the previous colour shows through on the purl stitches in the first row.  The trick is to do the first row of the new colour in pure knit stitches.  This is obviously inconsistent with the rib pattern, but this (apparently) doesn’t really show up, and it gives a clean change from one colour to the next.

We didn’t do it, because Andrea wanted to get the collar done and the zip sewn in before we left on vacation.  But it sounds like a good idea – so thanks to our viewers MistyValley, Mairwen and Stacie Bee for passing this on!