Cosmic and Spark

September is turning out to be in line with my predictions. There have been surprises – the sudden appearance of an additional two days of blue sky, warm sunny days for a start. But the mists and the steel grey skies and the yellowing leaves show the changing of the seasons.

The seasonal shift is one of many changes happening and a little knitting escape-ism seems in order. The prompt is ‘wand’, the project is the Spark socks and the conversation topic is toe up versus top down socks.

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Dalkeith Country Park

Time seems to be the most precious commodity at the moment. Every time I look at the date it sends a shock through me. Crikey! We’re into the final third of the year and the season is starting to shift here into a more autumnal tone.

I rebel against change. It’s an instinct that I fight because I know the importance of change. But, sometimes, a little pragmatic rebellion on one aspect can help sooth the panic of too much change at once. In short, a walk around Dalkeith Country Park was in order.

The weather, blessedly, held up for one day long enough to get a final summer walk in. We had blue skies and warm enough temperatures not to even need our raincoats and woolly jumpers. Now, a week later, these garments are rather more required. But Dalkeith Country Park is a site known for its rebellion against the weather.

The Orangerie at Dalkeith Country Park

The grand Orangerie sits in the grounds of the estate. Now open to the elements, the the 12-sided, intricately carved stone building would once have had enormous panes of glass in the windows. Huge boilers would have heated the space to a temperature suitable to grow oranges amongst other things, which is decidedly not typical of the Scottish climate.

Dalkeith Palace looks like something out of Downton Abbey. Amusingly, it has moved with the times and is used as the campus for the University of Wisconsin in Scotland which I imagine would be an excellent location to study. I wonder if wandering through the grand front door becomes normal after a few months?

Dalkeith Palace from the grounds

We took the long walk through the grounds, covering about 8 km, through the woodlands and along the river. Some of the trees date back 900 years and the site itself perhaps back to Roman times. I’ve been enjoying my history lately and it’s interesting to run across the reminders of how the Lothian region was under Roman occupation at some points.

We ended up sharing the Park with a hoard of 80s rock enthusiasts out for a concert, which makes the whole day seem rather surreal in retrospect. Another small rebellion against the passage of time, perhaps. It felt like the Park had a good balance overall – the beauty and history of the Park has been maintained but it’s not going stale from lack of use. Given how easy it is to access via public transport or otherwise, it’s a wonderful day trip from Edinburgh.

I cast on my Spark Socks on the 1st September. They are rather further along than shown in the photo below. I sat and watched the first Harry Potter movie and suddenly I was at the heel turn.

Spark Socks – 1st September 2021 cast on

I’ve got another sock nearly completed and plenty of knitting chat for next time so I’ll leave this as mostly ramble related.

September Socks: a game

I really need an escape right now. I shan’t moan but that’s my mental state at the moment. I’d take an actual escape (preferably to the Caribbean isle of St Marie from the TV show ‘Death in Paradise’) but I’m drawn to a different, more autumnal, fictional world for this escape. So, on the 1st September I’m off to Hogwarts for a special game of September Socks.

The concept is pretty simple. We’re in our first term at Hogwarts. The very first hectic days are over – Sorting is completed, timetables handed out and lessons begun. But it’s all a little much (the crowded corridors, moving staircases, talking portraits) and we escape down to the yew tree by the lake. Our wand beside us, we sit by the water watching the mermaids swim below the waves.

Wand, Lake, Mermaid – three skeins of yarn

There’s three core subjects to tackle – Transfiguration (a textured sock); Charms (a lace sock); and Herbology (a cabled sock). This weekend, Professor Sprout hasn’t assigned Herbology homework but there’s two Transfiguration tasks and a Charms assignment too.

  1. Spark Socks (Wand)- Transfiguration
  2. Firth Socks (Lake) – Charms
  3. Mermaid Socks – Transfiguration

I’m doing this all for me – it’s completely ridiculous but exactly what I need right now. But, if anyone wants the patterns I’ll make them available on the 1st of each month as I start the pair. But the aim is for a relaxed, fantastical game which is an excuse to knit another three pairs of socks.

Each sock is worth five points so a pair will be worth ten points. I’m also adding in Potions (dying yarn) with each dyed skein used in the challenge is worth another five points. To complete the challenge, I’m setting a rather reasonable 30 points as the requirement.

The socks as written are all toe up, as that’s how I like to knit my socks. There’s three heels (two traditional gusset with different turns and a short row heel) along with three different toes. As the setting is a school, it seems like a good moment to throw in some new things.

While undoubtedly bizarre from the outside, I’m really looking forward to this.

Sock Summer

This summer marks a strange anniversary. It’s been ten years since I learnt to knit socks.

The story of how I learnt is tied completely up with summer. I learnt while on summer holiday abroad, taught by my patient sister who kindly refrained from pointing out the yarn was entirely unsuitable for knitting socks. It was bright ocean blue, incredibly soft and had, I can only assume, negative nylon content.

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There are somethings worth waking up early for. Christmas morning is one, as are pancakes and going away for a holiday. I would, however, struggle to classify a Monday morning train to Aberdeen for work as being worthy of the early hour. From Aberdeen, I traveled onward to Ballater, a tiny village in the Cairngorms National Park near to the royal estate of Balmoral. The next morning, I woke up to snow.

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New beginnings

It’s a little strange writing about new beginnings at the end of January. It’s the right month, but feels like shutting the barn door after all the horses have bolted. The new beginning has already happened, and in fact this is more of a moment to be reconsidering all the ‘new year, new me’. Only the truly scatterbrained, such as myself, would stop on the 27th January to think about new beginnings.

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