Summer 2017 – don’t blink…

My oh my – I haven’t posted since June 5th… I have been here, there and everywhere in the last 2+ months, much as before, and there is more than enough fodder for the blog and I’m always seeing something or saying, ooh, blog…

In my last post, I mentioned we spent two weeks sailing a chartered yacht on Lake Constance. This is something we do for at least a long weekend most years and generally a week or even two, the lake being 65 km long and with plenty to explore – we’ve been doing it for 17 years, now, and there are still plenty of small harbours or bays we’ve not yet been to. We have some favourites to which we return regularly, and sometimes that depends on the weather or on the guests who join us for various legs of the trip – German guests like the Swiss shore, Swiss guests fancy seeing some of the German shore and for variety, there’s that little corner that is Austrian! We are used to country-hopping but some of our visitors do get a little confused, as it is quite a big concept and they are all very different cultures. On the other hand, we should be aware that all borders are just lines on a map even if the land is ruled by different governments… Suffice to say, our tri-border wanderings follow the wind and the weather and we had plenty of all of those on this occasion, from rain and stormy winds and impressively high waves (for a lake!) to sunshine, sunsets, swimming and sunbathing in the course of two weeks in June, that would be temperatures between approx. 10-30°C if anyone is wondering what the climate is like and whether we have snow all the year round in Switzerland (an idea that a lot of people have!).

As for the accommodation, imagine a swimming caravan and you’d be about right – we usually have either two or three cabins plus the option of people sleeping in the “living” area, so up to 6-8 beds and there is both a kitchen (galley) and a bathroom (head) as well as the outdoor space in fine weather and a heating system for cold weather – and there’s nothing like putting the small oven on and baking bread when the weather is poor. These are generally 32-37’ yachts intended as holiday rentals and are well-equipped with everything we need and you can bring as much or as little as you like!

On the other hand, we also had several day outings on our own little vintage yacht, as it’s been a pretty hot early summer this year. ‘Solitaire’ is a 21’ day sailer (she was originally a small racing yacht) who can only take 2-3 people at the most (or two and the dog!) and has no cabin at all but who is an ideal escape when the air gets hot and sticky and you can escape most insects and find a breeze out on the water – bliss! We appreciate her vintage details, as she is now over 50 years old but still whizzes along when the fancy takes her.

June birthdays brought barbecues and lovely restaurant meals – check out Schloss Brandis in Maienfeld, small town of “Heidi” fame!

I have found a small knitting group that meets here: It’s a lovely park and the café terrace is the perfect place to meet up. On a rainy day it’s just as nice inside – and they have homemade cakes! 🙂

We have had two more opportunities so far this year to visit Lucerne and stay overnight, always a treat. On the first occasion, the brand new leisure boat, Diamant, was off on her maiden trip with a good deal of press coverage. From our hotel restaurant we had a wonderful view of her setting off on Lake Lucerne on a beautiful summery evening with the water glistening under her bows. She had a great send-off! Meanwhile, she is a regular sight on the lake and you can take a boat ride or even a sunset trip with dinner… something not to be missed either on Diamant or one of the other boats or steamers that ply the waters both during the day and in the evenings, most days. On our second stay, the hot weather meant an evening stroll along the promenade under the plane trees was a must, stopping to paddle in the cool, clean water and to walk barefoot on the fresh grass. Our favourite hotel features the novelty of a tiny funicular railway down the steep slope to the lakeshore, which takes all of a minute… We’d already had a delicious afternoon ice-cream on the riverside in view of the chapel bridge since it was unusually quiet in the cafés that day, usually overrun with tourists, and we gave the dog a chance to have a swim there, too, since the swans were all off on the other side of the river… yes, Lucerne is always an option and a pleasure!

Not that everything is playtime in my life, of course – my glasses broke just before I was due to fly to England in July and miraculously, although they couldn’t be repaired and the optician had been doubtful of success, my new ones arrived well in time before I had to travel. There’s Swiss efficiency for you. As I am severely short-sighted and can’t see much of anything without them, I was very relieved not to have to live in some rather scratched sunglasses for several weeks – phew. My trip to England wasn’t a holiday, either. We have to clear my grandmother’s house for sale, which was never going to be an easy task. She had been wonderfully considerate in getting rid of a lot of things she knew we didn’t want. She was also very organised and had put everything away neatly – until she had a phase of “sorting” towards the end of her life, where she promptly muddled it all up! Also, what she considered worth keeping is not necessarily what the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th generations want to keep, so there has been a lot of sorting. However, some of her furniture and pretty and/or sentimental (to us) belongings will make the journey to Brittany (some ultimately to Switzerland) in the near future, so we had a pretty busy time. To our minds, the photos and correspondence she kept make up the bulk of the “treasure” – it is our family’s history, and in many cases, our own. Precious.

This was also a visit to scatter Granny’s ashes, both in her hometown of Sheffield and the place she called home for 80 years, with my Grandad, and we felt we’d done the right thing. We had very fine weather, and for the Yorkshire part, a beautiful view over the hills from the cemetery that would have pleased her, we thought.
Visiting friends, neighbours and family is always the nicest part of “going to Granny’s” and we will miss having that base, though we hope not to lose touch with anyone – we are also very curious about what the new owners of the house will do to modernise it, as it’s something of a 1938 time-warp! There’s a ready-made excuse to return to visit the neighbours…

No sooner had I returned from England to Switzerland, dealt with my laundry and rescued my housekeeping and pets than I packed up again to go to Brittany. Here, I enjoyed endless sunsets – they are so different every single day, weather that is so much more pleasant and mild than Switzerland’s heatwave (I don’t “do” heat!) even if it sometimes cool and even rainy, catching up on a tall pile of books that had been neglected and knitting to my heart’s content. The pets are pretty happy, too!

Well, to catch up on the knitting – firstly, Brooklyn Tweed’s Quill hap shawl, which came sailing in June, then to England and now to Brittany before it was finished. A beautiful Shetland-style shawl, I chose colours that are very reminiscent of Granny (though they were nearly all leftovers from my stash!) and am delighted with the result, after using a makeshift construction to stretch and block the shawl in the Breton sunshine! The fawn is Drops Flora (alpaca/wool blend), as is the cream and the lightest green. The heathered aqua is Drops Alpaca and the deeper green is Drops Baby Alpaca-Silk, all on 3.75mm needles.

What better project for the seaside than a summery top in silk and seacell?! This is PurlSoho’s Drawstring Top in Siidegarte’s silk-seacell blend, colourway Mischple (dialect for ‘medlar’). The resulting fabric, on quite large needles at 4mm, is soft, smooth and drapey and very comfortable to wear. It does dip quite far down the sides, requiring some kind of undergarment/camisole/boobtube underneath but I’m very pleased with it.

Next up to be finished was Audrey in Unst, a pattern by Gudrun Johnston, well-known Shetland designer and the wool is one I absolutely love and have used before – West Yorkshire Spinner’s Blue-faced Leicester, this time in a pinky-coral colour (I previously made the now well-loved Traveler cardigan in a light blue, blueberry, I think). A pretty cardigan, quite short and designed to be worn with a skirt or over a dress or tunic and with ¾ sleeves, it’s a very attractive shape with a neat Shetland lace design across the front yoke. This cardigan was also completed on 3.75mm needles – only partly because I recently bought some in-between sizes of circular needle, KnitPro Zing, which I am really enjoying using. Next best reasonably priced thing to the shockingly expensive Signature needles, good and sharp and nice flexible cables. I also got a HiyaHiya circular in a small dimension (2.75mm) which is equally pleasant to use.

I had quite a lot of wool left over from my Quill hap and decided in the heat of the moment to make up a small cardigan for my youngest grandchild – I used 3.5mm needles and invented a top-down heart-yoke cardigan. Not being a knit designer, I soon realised I had gone awry but continued anyway and the resulting garment looks ok – I hope it still looks ok when it’s on a living child!!

There was more leftover yarn hanging about and I couldn’t resist more owls – I have made the Owls and Owlet jumpers several times, now, and it’s a lovely and appealing pattern by Kate Davies, one of her first, I believe, and really popular. It was enough for, again, a small toddler-sized Owlet jumper for said granddaughter, who is doing well here! This is the 18mth size knit on 4.5mm needles in Malabrigo – worsted, I think – in English Rose.

And that, my friends, was most of what I did this summer – the books will have to be a separate post :o!!

11 thoughts on “Summer 2017 – don’t blink…

  1. Had an old friend visiting today who said he’d been on a paddle steamer on Lake Lucerne dating from 1902 – the other end of the scale from yours! And admirable précis of what i know has been a very busy time for you. Thanks for the photos, too.

    • I can never help thinking of what it must have been like in these places before all the modern buildings and fast travel! Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take it all in at the pace of 100+ years ago?! Probably less comfort, though…

      • Can’t go back quite that far, but I do recall the boat I was on in 1956 on Lake Lucerne: wooden slatted seats, and as my nose was bleeding, I just hung my face out over the stern and let the blood drip into the water! Does that make me blood-brothers with the Vierwaldstättersee?

  2. Now that’s an action-packed summer! Those sunsets are so beautiful and your grandchildren are very lucky to have such beautiful garments knitted for them.

  3. :Love hearing about your travels and seeing the beautiful pictures! Your knitting still amazes me. love all the pieces but that owl design is by far my favorite in this group.

    • I’m glad I can bring you the pleasure – I must admit I’m spoilt for choice with a photo op at every turn! Today I had the privilege of seeing over 6 countries (Switzerland, Germany, Liechtenstein, Austria, France, Italy) from an altitude of 2502 m (8200 ft), an enormous panorama of mountains and greenery that was truly mindblowing. How very lucky I am.
      That Owls sweater is a very popular one I’ve made several times in different sizes, by a hugely talented UK designer, Kate Davies, living in Scotland and producing amazing wool, patterns, books, you name it!

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