Knitting and spinning after geography, I promise.
Traditionally May Day Bank Holiday weekend (that’s the weekend just past, with holiday Monday) is the first weekend of the year when the urban/suburban British head for somewhere green. Many go for the garden centre option, where they can contemplate over-priced plants (£3.99 that’s nearly US$8 for a 6″ tomato seedling!) and water features while eating greasy food in the restaurant. Others clog the motorways heading for the great outdoors. Those with sense stay home. We… had a little sense. We left early, heading from Flatland up to the Dark Peak of Derbyshire to see whether our work in the gym was of any use at all In Real Life. As we drove north the landscape developed bumps and hollows and we became proper 3-dimensional people. From Edale we walked up Grinds Brook in company with many others, staying on the public right-of-way because the open moors were closed due to high fire risk.
I confess? announce proudly? that we passed all those people and more before we reached the top of the hill. I admit I’m not at all certain that it was wise to do so, but we’re too competitive for our own good. Something that must change if we’re too continue walking for pleasure, as our joints aren’t going to be able to sustain that level of activity much longer.
Born in Canada, I learned about England from books. I painted landscapes in my head based on the words of Dickens and Tolkien and the pictures of illustrators such as Pauline Baynes. Grindsbrook Clough could be part of Ettinsmoor (from the Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis); I kept a wary eye open for the giants who’d thrown all these loose rocks. Note the sculpted rimrock; that’s Millstone Grit, so named because it was used to make millstones. The top of the hill is vast and flat. Known as Kinder Scout, it’s famed for being difficult to navigate. We’d never been here before, and found its reputation well-deserved. High above the rest of the landscape there are few landmarks by which to navigate even on a clear day.
I should have thought to include someone for scale; that sandy-bottomed hollow in the peat is about 6′ deep. We never walk without a map and compass, so were able (with lots of, um, animated discussion because we’re not practiced compass-users) to find our route across the plateau. I thought of Mrs J often during the day, as the hills were alive with teachers escorting groups of students. Or searching like sheepdogs for their missing students. We were astonished by the degree of erosion up here, made starkly evident by the contrast of the underlying white sand against the dark peat. Where possible we stayed on the sand to spare the vegetation.
Those who walk here often would probably learn to recognise individual rocks. It may look like a sculpture park specialising in the work of Henry Moore, but grit-laden wind over many, many years was probably responsible for these works of art.
We did the walk we’d intended to do* and finished bloodied but unbowed at a pub in Edale. Where I realised that the back of my neck was sporting the worst sunburn I’ve had for 30 years. Where was that fairy godmother when I needed her?
I’d planned to knit while he drove back, but he voted for me to drive and had a second beer. So I knitted like fury the rest of the weekend. And did some spinning.
Now, this is a lesson I MUST LEARN, or rather REMEMBER. Pretty fibre does NOT necessarily yield pretty yarn. As the progression from short-repeat colourful roving through singles to 2-ply yarn proves. The pretty blues and greens are buried in that grey/pink band, visible only to those who peer at it closely. If I want to see clean, clear colours in the yarn, I must choose fibre with colour bands longer than the length of the fibres OR Navajo-ply the singles. In short, the roving was pretty, the knitted lace looks like something a cat threw up. Really, it does. At least in this house. Also, although the final yarn was reasonably balanced (no twist after washing), I think the singles was over-twisted. Memo to self: don’t be such a speed demon when spinning.
But I spent most of my time on The Purple Thing, as he calls it. I’ve never knitted this type of lace before and am now unable to think of much else. I wanna see the pattern. “Just one more round” I mutter as I notice the time. It’s now too big for its bag and like a hermit crab must crawl off and seek a larger home. That small ball of wool is about 1.5″ in diameter; it was once the largest of the three balls/2500 yds of laceweight. Larger than the ball next to it, which will be needed before the weekend if I can ignore the telephone, the computer, work, everything else.
Also: is Joanne’s book good news or bad news for her bank balance? Discuss.
* 64cm, that is to say 16km, a shade under 10 miles. Some of that was steep hill and at the end I felt we could have done more, so that’s not bad. For two c.50yo from flatland. I think we can start thinking about the Pennine Way.