walk

Finding the Felty Folk

It’s been so lovely to see the sunshine again after an exceptionally long Winter in Scotland. I enjoyed watching the coverage of the Chelsea Flower show on the BBC, and it gave me quite a hankering to wander through beautiful gardens.

Saturday looked like it was going to be a glorious day, and I had planned to visit a nice garden – Monteviot Gardens, near Jedburgh. This was the first time I’d been there:

Monteviot Gardens

How lovely to have a river at the bottom of your garden, the water was like glass:

River Teviot

I had arranged with Neeva to get a message to Oosie and Diggly to meet me in the gardens, as it wasn’t too far from where they lived. So I was keeping my eyes peeled for them.

They weren’t in the Laburnum Tunnel; I thought they would have enjoyed climbing it:

Laburnum Tunnel

It wasn’t in its full glory, as it was in the shade, and the yellow blossoms were only just starting to come out.

They weren’t in the Arboretum; although I saw lots of good Felty Folk hidey-holes in the trees, and some fantastic twisted tree bark:

Tree bark

They weren’t running through the blooming Wild Garlic under the trees:

Wild garlic

Maybe it was too smelly!

I walked into the lush Oriental Water Gardens,

Water Gardens

and found them sitting on one of the bridges, soaking in the sunshine:

Oosie & Diggly on the bridge

“Hi!” I called out “I’ve found you. Aren’t you worried other people might see you there?”

Oosie and Diggly laughed.

“People make so much noise walking about we get plenty of warning before we have to hide,” Diggly commented.

Oosie & Diggly on bridge close up

“It’s good to see you again,” Oosie said.

They got up, ran across the bridge and leapt into the flower beds, swinging from hand to hand towards me.

Oosie & Diggly swinging

Oosie stopped right in front of me, swaying on a flowerhead.

Oosie swinging on flowers

“I haven’t seen you since the snow in March,” I said. “Isn’t it lovely now the sun has come out.”

“It is,” said Oosie. “It makes it so much easier for us to get about too.”

She swung herself along, with Diggly following, and jumped from flower to leaf to rock to bridge, exploring the garden.

Finally they slowed down and caught their breath, resting in a clump of Gunnera leaves, which swayed wildly as they landed.

Oosie & Diggly on Gunnera

“Have you explored the rest of the garden yet?” I asked.

They both nodded.

“Yes, we came early while it was quiet, we played for quite a long time on the tunnel thing!” exclaimed Oosie.

We chatted for quite a while, catching up with news of the Felty Folk, until it was eventually time to leave. I remembered I had an invitation for them.

“Would you both like to come to a feast I’m going to have in my garden soon?”

“Ooh, yes!” they cried, “that sounds marvellous!”

Oosie & Diggly close up

“Alright. I’ll get Neeva to send a message to you as usual to let you know when it’s going to happen.”

I left Oosie and Diggly on the leaf, chatting away about the imminent feast.

Gunnera

Thanks to S.Miller for use of some of the photographs here.

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Felty Folk snowball fight

Before the snow melted, I took a walk around the back of my house to see the snowy scenery. It was a bit of a grey dull Sunday afternoon, but the snow looked lovely:

Snowy field

I walked through woodlands, and reached a gate:

Snowy gate

where I could see the partly frozen and flooded Leader Water still flowing through the field.

Icy Leader Water

I was just about to turn back for home, when I heard some familiar squeaking behind me. I looked around, and there were all of the Felty Folk on a nearby snowy bank:

FeltyFolk in the snow

“Hi all of you,” I exclaimed, pleased to see them, “what are you doing out in the snow, you don’t usually like to come out in it?”

“Hi,” they all replied. Neeva came nearer and explained,

“Well, the snow is nearly melted in parts, and it wasn’t too difficult to get about, so we thought we would come out and see some daylight.”

“I had the same idea,” I said. “How come Diggly and Neeva are here too? I thought they lived further South now.

“We came up for a visit,” Diggly said.

“Then it snowed, and we got stuck here, as it was too difficult to travel in the snow,” Oosie continued.

“So they’ve been staying with me ever since,” said Neeva, smiling.

I was still chatting with Neeva when I noticed Oosie make a snowball:

Oosie starts snowball fight

and aim it at Neeva:

Oosie with snowball

“Look out!” I cried. But it was too late:

Neeva hit by snowball

Oh Dear.

Neeva hit by snowball close up

“Two can play at that game!” she yelled, and hurled a snowball at Oosie:

Oosie hit by snowball, Lauder, Scottish Borders

A playful snowball fight ensued among the younger Felty Folk, with the Gillie Dhu, Dod and I laughing at their antics.

Eventually they were all snowed out and a bit soggy:

All snowed out

“That looked like fun,” I said to them, “I think you’d better get home and dry off.”

Snowball fight

They laughed and we all headed off up the track together.

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