The Crystal Well

I made a return visit to the Crystal Well, near St. Boswells, at the end of the Autumn and saw some of the Felty Folk again. I was directed to the Crystal Well when looking for a geocache, (a good example of how geocaching leads you to interesting places). I went with my friend from Newcastle, who took the photos of my red shawl I showed you in my last post. I really enjoyed my last visit, and was fascinated by a plantation of trees there:

Tree avenue in Summer, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I loved the rhythm of the receding trees. I was keen to see what they would look like in Autumn colours.

As I got out of the car, I was greeted by a Robin, really close by:

Robin, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It had been a frosty weekend, and although the sun was shining, there were pockets of thick frost, which created wonderful sculptured foliage:

Frosty Maple leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders          Frosty leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Frosty fern, St Boswells, Scottish Borders          Frosty Butterbur leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Which contrasted with the bright trees:

Trees on Fire, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

When I visited the well in Summer it looked like this:

Well Pump and view to River Tweed, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

This is what it looked like in Autumn:

Autumn well view, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And by the river:

Frost and Sun, view to River Tweed, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I walked towards the well, and thought I saw something quickly move there.

Frost and well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I crept around to the side of the spring, and look who I saw:

Autumn well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Can you see him on the left by the railings? It’s the Ghillie Dhu: often the most difficult of the Felty Folk to see, and rarely keen to talk to me. When I got closer to the well he moved away.

Crystal Well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had a closer look at the carved face above the well:

Well carving, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I heard a small voice below me,

“Go away! I’m busy communing with the Spirit of the Well. Go and find Neeva, she’s exploring the woods nearby.”

I looked down, and there he was:

Ghillie Dhu at the well, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

He looked quite cross, so I backed away, apologised, and went to find Neeva.

I headed to the tree plantation, and was disappointed to find all the leaves had fallen off the main plantation trees:

Treetops, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had forgotten they were poplars, which drop their leaves quite early in Autumn. It still looked dramatic though:

Through the trees, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

Autumn shadows, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I had hoped there might be a carpet of golden leaves below the trees, but most of them were black and brown. However, this one looked lovely:

Poplar Leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It gave me an idea for a colour combination to use with some beautiful golden handspun yarn I have.

I went in search of gold leaves, and found some:

Golden Leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

This reminded me of a Klimt painting:

Klimt-like trees, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And a single leaf, still clinging on:

Golden Leaf, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I walked back into the plantation, and noticed some of the trees looked like they were wearing mossy legwarmers:

Moss legwarmers, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

And then I saw Neeva:

Seeing Neeva, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

“Hi Neeva,” I said. “You’re far from home.”

“So are you. I’m surprised to see you here,” she replied.

I explained about my previous visit, and she said she had come with the Ghillie Dhu on his pilgrimage to the Crystal Well for a change of scenery. Although she said she was a bit bored now she was here; and that the Ghillie Dhu was doing meditation, and communing with the Spirit of the Well, and they could be here for a while yet.

Neeva and Moss, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I was a bit concerned about disturbing him, but Neeva said he was often a bit grumpy anyway, and not to worry. We headed back to the Crystal Well together, Neeva stopping for a frolic in the leaves under a hazel tree.

Neeva in leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

The shadows were getting longer and it was time for me to return home. I was concerned about Neeva travelling in the dark, but she reassured me that she was staying with some other Felty Folk nearby, and would be travelling back the next day. Although the Ghillie Dhu would stay at the well overnight. I asked if Neeva had seen the Spirit of the Well.

Neeva in leaves, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

” I’ve only seen her faintly,” she said,  ” she can’t be seen by humans at all.”

“Why does he do the pilgrimage?”

“I think it is a kind of cleansing experience, and is done to mark a change of some kind. I don’t really understand it, it’s to do with his ceremonial duties too,” she explained.

We walked along the path together until we reached the steps I had to climb to get back to the car.

Neeva on path, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

It’s interesting that the Ghillie Dhu makes his pilgrimage here, as the information board at the well says it is quite modern:

Well sign, St Boswells, Scottish Borders

I’m sure the spring itself is old…


Autumn knitting round-up

I thought it was about time to show you my recent knitting projects. As usual, I always have something on my needles, and the grotty weather we had this Summer made me reach for bright warm colours, as you will see.

I admire very fine lace knitting, and have enjoyed making some lace shawls using 4 ply weight yarn, and really fancied trying knitting with lace weight yarn. I’d had my eye on a small shawl, Alcea, with a beautiful sinuous lace border, and decided to knit myself a red shawl:

Scarlet Alcea shawl

Lace knitting is one of the few times I don’t play about with a pattern, I knit it as instructed, I don’t feel confident enough to adapt it. However each time I knit lace I learn more, so one day… who knows what I’ll come up with. I was very surprised at how different it felt to knit with fine laceweight yarn, I had a terrible tendency to slip stitches off my needles, I really had to watch what I was doing. This is my shawl on Ravelry.

Having followed a pattern dutifully, I wanted to break out a little and adapted this Kissing Koi Mittens pattern into socks:

Kissing Koi socks

I think mittens patterns can translate quite well into socks. The knitting designer, Spilly Jane, often makes sock and mitten versions of her designs. I tweaked the charts provided in the pattern on a photo editing program, and adapted the background to the fish, creating extra bubbles to fill the back of the socks:

Kissing Koi socks back

I also messed around with the self-stripeing yarn: I chopped up 2 balls of yarn, put the same colours together and knitted alternative rows of the same colour to create a more gradual, slower colour change. I used the same technique on this pattern – Noro Ushi scarf – scroll down for photos of chopped up yarn balls. It takes a real control freak to want to control the way self-stripeing yarn stripes!

Like I say, I usually want to tweak patterns, I want them longer/shorter, in a different weight of yarn, I want to use the motif on a different item of clothing etc. I also usually want to make something different, and shy away from very popular patterns, especially if it’s something for me to wear. However some patterns are just so amazing and attractive I can’t resist.

I succumbed to Kate Davies’ Betty Mouat Cowl, especially after she knitted it in a muted colourway. It has been knitted 171 times by knitters on Ravelry, queued to knit 530 times, and favorited 1515 times and was only released this March . I’m a regular reader of Kate Davies’ blog, and there was a photo of of this colourway of the cowl at the top of her blog for several months, and it must have just got to me. So when she announced a kit of the cowl available online, I bought it straightaway. I have knitted the long version:

Betty Mouat Cowl long

546 stitches to cast on! twice! Then graft 546 stitches together at the end! Luckily my desire for the cowl overcame all obstacles, and I’m very happy with it:

Betty Mouat Cowl

I’ve discovered that knitting garter stitch (knit every row) is not my favorite stitch pattern. Some people dislike purl stitch, but for me, inserting my needle into the front loop with the purl bump in my way kinda tenses me up a bit and slows my knitting down. Does anyone else find this? Perhaps I’m knitting it in a “funny” way? I will have to get someone to watch me knitting garter stitch when I’m next at my knitting group. My version of the cowl is here.

Another popular knit I’ve succumbed to is a free pattern – Aidez. This has 2379 projects, is on 7608 queues, and has been favorited 18959 times on Ravelry since it was published in October 2010. It looked so cosy and warm, and is a well fitted and modern take on the traditional cabled cardigan. I’ve not stopped wearing it:

Ruby Red Aidez cardigan

It is a nice, simply written pattern, with written and charted instructions for the cables, and is knitted in separate pieces an sew together. However, I preferred to knit it all-in-one, and found it fairly easy to add up the amount of stitches and knit altogether from the bottom up. I knitted the sleeves circularly, and joined them to the main body when I had reached the underarm cast off section of the main body. My version is on Ravelry here.

IRuby Red Aidez cardigan back

An exciting thing happened to me at a recent meeting of the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A new lady came along to the meeting, and when we got chatting, she said,

“Aren’t the person who does the Felty Folk blog?”

This is the first time I have met someone who reads my blog, that is not someone I know! Of course, I know her now – Hi Katherine! I hope I see you again soon.

She sometimes comments on my blog, so keep an eye out for her.

Finally, I went for a lovely walk in Shincliffe Woods, County Durham with my friend from Newcastle. The Autumn colours were sublime, and although my photos do not do it justice, I thought I’d share a few with you.

Shincliffe Woods 2

Shincliffe Woods 3

Shincliffe Woods 1

Felty Folk in the Mist

At last I managed to raise enough Ooomph to go for a walk in the countryside around Lauder, and catch up with the Felty Folk again. Although it’s been a while since I have written about them, Neeva has popped into to see me at home a couple of times. I’ve been working hard in my job and have been too tired to do much when I’m not working; but one day, I just got sick of the four walls at home and just had to get out, stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air.  So I took a drive up to Lauder Common for a walk, it wasn’t a very nice day:

Misty common

Very misty and still, maybe a little spooky? I was going to walk in a little clump of trees that I’d never explored on Lauder Common before, this was because I was looking for a geocache.

Misty trees

I’ve had a go at geocaching this year, and have found a few. Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunting activity: people have hidden containers with a logbook and sometimes a few small tokens, toys etc, they post the co-ordinates and a clue on the geocaching website, where other people can look up the details and find the cache and log their visit. Sounds very geeky, I know, but I always liked treasure hunts when I was a kid, and by looking for these caches, you are taken to places you haven’t discovered before; great when you’re on holiday and want to find a local walk. You are supposed to use a hand held GPS device to find the caches, but I haven’t got one; so I put the co-ordinates into Google Maps, and study the satellite and street view before I go to find it, and a helpful clue will often get me there. So I wandered around the clump of trees on Lauder Common, and looked for likely places where a cache would be hidden, and I found it!  It was a small well-hidden plastic food box, so I made sure no-one was around to see me open it, and signed the logbook.

I carried on having an explore through the trees, the light through the mist and tree branches was eerie, and drips were plopping from the trees from the moisture in the air:

Gossamer and droplets

The fine gossamer threads of spiders webs were catching the light.


The tree trunks were all twisted and mossy and wet:

Under the tree

Then I saw something move in the tree roots. It was Neeva!

Neeva gathering

I stopped for a chat.

“Hi Neeva. Good to see you.”

“Hi Ruth, I’m glad to see you out for a walk.”

“I see you’ve got your knitted bag you made with you,” I said. “Are you out foraging?”

“Yes I am,” she said. “I’m collecting Wood Sorrel leaves to make into soup for supper tonight.”

“I’m looking forward to that”, said a deeper voice from higher up the tree. I looked up, and there was Dod:

Dod's there too

“Hi Dod. I haven’t seen you for ages, what are you up to?”

“Busy as usual before Winter, just collecting some fencing twigs, and some pine needles to help insulate my home,” he answered.

 Dod gathering

Dod slithered and bumped his way down the tree with a handful of twigs, and joined Neeva.

What we got

“Wood Sorrel soup sounds lovely,” I commented.

“Yes, it’s good to have something warm and nourishing after a day foraging,” said Dod.

“Have you seen Oosie recently?” I asked. “I haven’t seen here since we went on the trip to see Diggly.”

“She was up here for a while when we had some warm dry weather,” replied Neeva, “but she’s gone back to stay with Diggly again now, and I don’t think we’ll see her much now we are heading into Winter.”

Neeva Chats

“You must miss her,” I said.

“Well yes, but that’s what happens when two Felty Folk have a bond like they have. They spend time together to see if they want to stay together permanently. So I don’t expect to see her so often now; it’s a shame Diggly doesn’t live closer.”

“That is a shame, but still, it’s good to know she’s happy,” I said.

Neeva and Dod agreed with me.

It was nearly lunchtime, so I headed off back to the car and left the Felty Folk to their foraging. I’m sure I’ll see them again soon.

Leaf dance

I’ve got a little behind on my blog posts (again), I won’t bore you with excuses. These photos are from a couple of weeks ago, with the Autumn leaves still on the trees. Since then we’ve had howling winds, frost, ice and snow; so enjoy more of my celebration of Autumn to warm you up a bit.

First, here’s a couple of Autumn photos that didn’t quite get into my other posts, but I really like them, so thought I’d show them:

Trees at Harry Burn

This was taken in Hamish’s Wood.

I’m always fascinated by the deciduous conifers up here; another plant I hadn’t experienced until I moved to Scotland, most of them are varieties of Larch. I love the soft feathery effect the golden needles create, and the way they shine out against the evergreens:

Golden Larch

After weeks of feeling really tired, I was glad to wake up on a sunny Saturday morning and feel motivated to get out and do stuff. I took a drive down to Lilliesleaf, which is a small village between St. Boswells and Selkirk, about 30 mins drive away from Lauder. It was the last weekend of Inge Panneels Open Studios, and I was keen to see if she had some beautiful pieces of glass I could buy for Christmas presents. It was a lovely drive, a good mix of fast roads, winding country roads, and sun-filled Autumn scenery. As I pulled into the village there was a row of vibrant yellow Maple trees and I just had to stop and take a photo:

Row of Trees

I was just about to go, when I heard squeaking in the nearest tree, and looked up to see…

Oosie in Tree

Oosie! She was jumping up and down with excitement, and I was really surprised to see her so far from Lauder.

Oosie in Tree

“Hello Ruth”, she cried.

“Hi there, Oosie. What are you doing here? You’re so far away from home.”

“I’ve been visiting my friend Diggly, he lives quite near here.”

“It’s a very long way to travel, Oosie. How did you get here?”

“Well, it was quite a long way, and it took me a long time walking and running, but I stopped for rests in safe places on the way. I’ve stayed with Diggly for a little while, and now I’m on my way back home. Me and Diggly made up a dance, do you want me to show you?”

She started climbing down the tree:

Climbing down

“That would be lovely, Oosie. As long as it won’t make you too tired for your journey.”

“Oh no, I don’t get very tired,’ she said, and slid down the last bit of the trunk.

Climbing down

She scampered across the grass, grabbing a couple of leaves as she ran.

Autumn dance

“Watch this!” she squealed in excitement.

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“Wow! That looks like fun. A bit like a feather fan dance, or semaphore. Does it mean anything?” I asked.

“No, it’s just fun, I can’t wait to show Neeva and Dod when I get back.”

“I’m going home in a short while Oosie, if you want a lift?” I suggested.

“Thank you,” she said politely, “but I’m staying with some other friends on the way home. And… and… I’m a bit scared of your noisy car.”

“OK Oosie, as long as you will be alright getting home.”

“Oh yes, I’m enjoying my trip away, it’s quite an adventure.”

We wished each other goodbye, and she set off:

Oosie leaves

I hoped she’d be safe, she looked so small walking away:

Oosie leaves

I was intrigued to hear about her friends, I must ask her more when we meet again. I went off to see the glass studio – more of my visit in my next post.