Thursday, 31 July 2014


On Saturday evening the husband and I decided to take a drive up into the Mourne Mountains to see how low the water level in the Spelga Reservoir had become due to the hot weather we have been having. We travelled from Rathfriland to Hilltown and then took the B27 up into the mountains. We passed a field of horses on the way so had to stop for some photos.
There is a really bad hairpin bend that I hate driving round as the road is also very steep. At the side of the reservoir there is a car park where you can stop and have a look at the beautiful scenery. However we continued on along the road to a T-junction further on. We took the road to the right which goes to Kilkeel and then, just as we passed the end of the reservoir, we took an old, narrow road to the right. There’s room at the end of it, where it is fenced off, to park about half a dozen cars but we were the only ones there apart from a couple walking their dog.

I don’t think I have ever seen the water so low. Although the old road is fenced off so you can’t drive any further, you can walk down to the edge of the water. This old road is what was originally the road through the mountains from Kilkeel before the Spelga Dam was built and the area flooded. At times when the water level is low you can see the old road, no longer submerged, wending its way into the reservoir.
There’s also a bridge that at times becomes visible. These little stone bridges are built along all the roads in the Mournes to allow streams to run down the mountains and under the road.

Do you see the lengths I went to for a photo?

It was tricky crossing the stream on those wobbly stones!

Made it in the end - I wasn't wearing suitable shoes!

On this occasion we were able to walk along the old road for probably half a mile. It is broken up quite badly in places now but still recognisable as a road. The husband took lots of photos so you can see what it is like. It’s actually quite an eerie place, especially once we’d walked out as far as we could go.

Almost there....

 We reached the water's edge.
Of course the husband refused to be in any of the pictures so I'm afraid they're all of me. I hate being photographed but had to endure it! So you'll have to endure looking at them now they're taken.

Time was going on (and there isn't a lot to do once you get to this point) so we turned and made our way slowly back to the car.
We passed a little culvert that is normally under the water.
Someone had written in the drying silt - DON'T STEP HERE. A sensible warning I think.

What is normally under the water of the resevoir was drying up and starting to crack.

The husband took his opportunity and wrote the name of my blog - except he didn't quite get it right!

What direction to go round the stunted tree?

To the right.


The mountain you can see in the picture above is called Slieve Muck. It comes from the Irish Sliabh Muc which means Mountain of the Pigs. It is 2211 feet (674 metres) high. The husband and I have walked to the top a few times as there is a magnificent view on the other side.
Time for home, back down the B27....

...and round the hairpin bend.

Finally heading back home to Rathfriland from Hilltown.

For some reason seeing the old road reminded me of a poem I love even though it isn't really about the same thing - except that it's about a road. But I'll include it anyway as it's really good. It's by Robert Frost and is called The Road not Taken; I'm sure a lot of you will know it. Enjoy.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Small Things

Following on from my post Finito, I have a few other small items to show you that I've finished recently. Once I'd finished the Blossom Shawl I needed something else to work on in the car. I remembered that I had some Aran wool that I bought a couple of years ago while on a short holiday in Galway. The wool is spun in Donegal and has a bit of a slub and little nebs of colour in it that make it very interesting. It also smells the way I remember Aran wool smelling when my mother bought it years ago. She seemed to always be knitting an Aran jumper or cardigan for someone in the family!

When I was buying the wool, not being able to decide which colours to take, I bought two balls of thirteen different colours. For a long time now I haven't made things for myself so, part of the thought process in deciding what to make next was that I'd like something for me. Deciding what to work on next is sometimes a long, thoughtful process but at other times it's an instant (or almost instant) decision. Next I needed to decide what exactly I was going to make and how. I have been thinking for a while about making a sort of poncho/capelet type of thing. Not big; just something to cover my shoulders. Well I was almost there. I picked my favourite seven colours from the stash of Aran wool and, rather than try to make up some sort of square myself, I decided to use the Willow block pattern from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks book.

The wool choice was like this....

I took a photo after making the first three blocks. Jan Eaton's book says that the squares are all 6" if you use DK yarn and a 4mm hook. My yarn was Aran weight and I was using a 5mm hook. I only crocheted the first four rounds of the Willow block and this produced a 6.25" square but that was fine for me. Because I'm still loving the flat join method I used it here as well.

I couldn't believe how quickly this worked up. Before I knew it the poncho/capelet was finished. While I was crocheting it I was thinking ahead to what sort of edging I could put round the bottom and round the neck. But when it was finished I decided that I liked it the way it was without any edging. So I just sewed in the ends and gave it a little bit of a block and that was it - finito!!

Front view

From the back

Even though it has been so warm here recently I wore it one day!! It was admired and then, being almost overcome with the heat, I decided it was better to take it off and keep it for cooler days.

Here are the details of how I made this and what materials I used.

100% Aran wool - a total of approximately 320g

I used seven different colours, with three in each block. You can decide your own colour scheme of course.

5mm hook

I made 16 squares each 6.25". My pattern was the first four rounds of the Willow block from Jan Eaton's 200 crochet blocks book. You could do a simple Granny square so long as it ends up approximately 6.25" square.

The squares are arranged in two groups of 3x3 but with a corner missing from each group. Have a look at this photo to see how the squares are arranged. The two groups of squares are then also joined. You don't have to join the squares as you make them; you could crochet them or sew them together at the end.

 So what do you think of my little poncho/capelet thingy? I'm really, really please with it!

All the very best for now.

Saturday, 26 July 2014


Many years ago a young woman and a young man, unknown to each other, sailed out of Southampton on a ship destined for Peru and on this long journey they met and fell in love. Having arrived in Peru, they lived and worked in areas that were separated by many miles. However, as soon as they were able to make arrangements, they married and began their life together. Almost a year later their first child was born; a daughter; and that daughter was me. I grew up speaking English with my parents and other adults but all the children I knew spoke Spanish so I conversed with them in Spanish.
We returned to Northern Ireland when I was five years old, where I continued to speak English to grown-ups and Spanish to children, including my cousins. This was a bit of a problem, especially for school, so I was told to speak only English. The result is that I barely know any Spanish now. However, when we were children, we often had the odd Spanish word or phrase thrown into the conversation. When we were going out we got ‘vamos’ – ‘let’s go’. And when my mother finished something she’d been knitting or crocheting she declared ‘finito’ – ‘finished’.
This is my Blossom Shawl and I declare it ‘finito’.

I wasn’t happy with the way the dangly bits were attached to the shawl at only one point so I removed them. I tried a different method of attaching them but still wasn’t happy. In the end I joined each of the coloured circles at three points, resulting in a more robust join that also made the shawl keep its shape better round the outside edge. At first I thought the coloured bits were rather random but once the shawl was blocked I was happy enough with them. What do you think? Would the shawl have been better without them?

Here's a close-up of the motif and how it's joined to the ones round it.

Some more photos just because I took them every way I could think of!

This shawl was started back here and here and worked on really just in the car. It's been finished for some time now but I haven't had the chance to show you it. The pattern is from this book but with several tweaks to make it either easier to do or more to my liking. For a start, the pattern says to make all the motifs separately and sew them together at the end. I joined mine as I went along. Also, a big diversion from the pattern was that I used DK yarn (and a 4 mm hook) instead of 4-ply.

 Anyway, the little coloured bits round the outside of the shawl didn’t require much in the way of yarn. The balls are 100g and I probably used only 20g, at the most, of each colour. What to do with the left over yarn? Make a little cushion to match the shawl, of course! I made a Granny square using the Sherbert and Parchment. Then, working on only one side of the Granny square, I crocheted rows (back and forth) of half trebles in the Sherbert colour, making one side of the cushion back. On the penultimate row I made seven one-stitch button holes. I made this part of the back approximately two thirds the width of the Granny square. I repeated the process, using Parchment, on the opposite side of the Granny square. Being rather averse to sewing, I crocheted right round the whole piece; just one row of double crochets using Parchment. After folding the piece so it was in the correct position/shape to make a cushion cover, with part of the Sherbert back overlapping the Parchment back, I crocheted (using double crochet again) a row that joined the two open sides of the cushion cover and also made a ‘seam’ across where the Granny square changed to become the half treble rows for the backs. That is really, really hard to describe without showing you how it was done. Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures as I went along! Anyway, to finish off I crocheted right round again making little picots. Then I sewed on the tiny buttons and there it is – finito!

Unfortunately I still haven't been able to find a small enough cushion pad to fill the cushion.

By the way, I use UK crochet terms throughout. For US readers, our half treble is the same as a US half double crochet and our double crochet is the same as a US single crochet.
Here are the statistics for the shawl:

Blossom shawl measures 47" x 50" approximately

Used Stylecraft Special DK yarn - 100% acrylic - 700g white
Plus approximately 20g Sherbert and 20g Parchment - also Stylecraft Special DK yarn

4mm hook

The shawl is made up of 6 rows of 9 motifs with rows of 8 motifs between each row of 9 - so a total of 5 rows of 8 motifs. Look at the pictures at the start to see how the motifs are laid out.

I used the first 2 rows of the motif pattern (my tweaked version) to make the coloured attachments.

I hope you like the shawl; it would be lovely to hear what you think. I have some more things finished recently that I will also show you soon.

Take care and enjoy your day wherever you are.