Monday, February 15, 2016

While Miz Kittling Knits: Happy Valley

I had a moment of stunned disbelief Saturday when Facebook showed me a "memory" from precisely one year ago: the first afghan I made. I can't believe it's been a year since that first welcome-back-to-knitting project; I've made so many other things since then!

And if I've knitted many other things since that one afghan, it means that I've watched quite a few crime dramas on television, since the two things go hand in hand with me. 

It's time to show you a knitting project that I've almost completed (thank heavens!), and time to talk about something I watched on television while I was stitching furiously. Let's take a look!

I'm pretty sure I mentioned making two quilt-sized bed covers, and I've almost finished the one for the bed in the guest room. The light in the room competed against the bright Arizona sunshine outside to make this coverlet look much darker than it is as I stretched it out across the mattress to try it on for size.

The coverlet is made from two strands of Lion Brand Homespun yarn in what the company calls a "painterly" color named "Windsor." Painterly means that the yarn is not one solid color, but a blend of several. The yarn I'm using is a blend of blues, purples, lavenders, greys, and greens.

Here's a closeup so you can see the true color. You can also see the point protectors I put on the ends of my knitting needles. Not only do they protect the ends of the knitting needles, they keep the stitches from slipping off and creating chaos.

There's no pattern to my coverlet really. It's all garter stitch, and with two strands of yarn being used, it's incredibly warm and soft, and close-knit enough that guests shouldn't have to worry about having their fingers or toes poking through. My light and bright quilted pillow shams and matching quilt across the foot of the bed should compliment it perfectly.

This project has taken some arm strength once it grew to a certain size. I had to transport it in a big garbage bag to keep it clean, and those big circular needles really helped to bear the weight of all those stitches and all that yarn. This would have been impossible to make (in one huge piece) on straight needles!

Now what have I been watching while I've been stitching away on this? I have to admit that this was my third viewing of Happy Valley courtesy of Netflix. The first time I watched it, it was a "test viewing," and I was blown away by how good it was. So good that I was quite willing to sit through it a second time so Denis could watch it on his days off. He really enjoyed it, too. Then I happened to see that there would be a second season of Happy Valley, so I watched the first again.

"Happy Valley" Actress Sarah Lancashire on the left.
Here's a synopsis I found on Wikipedia:

Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a strong-willed police sergeant in West Yorkshire, still coming to terms with her daughter's suicide. Just as she seems to be getting back on top of her life, she spots standing on a street corner in her town Tommy Lee Royce (James Norton), the man she believes is responsible for the brutal rape that impregnated and drove her daughter to suicide. Catherine soon becomes obsessed with finding Royce, unaware that he is involved in the kidnapping of Ann Gallagher (Charlie Murphy), a plot instigated by Kevin Weatherill (Steve Pemberton) and orchestrated by Ashley Cowgill (Joe Armstrong). Things quickly take a dark turn as the abductors scramble to keep the kidnapping secret, although Catherine is onto them. 

One of the things I learned from clicking on various links is that, not only are the six one-hour episodes filmed in West Yorkshire, many of the actors are from Yorkshire and Lancashire as well. I've been in this area a few times visiting family, and I found myself inordinately pleased over seeing things like a bus going to Hebden Bridge, or a police car driving across the moors on a road I know well.

"Happy Valley" Actor James Norton on the right.
 The writing (by Sally Wainwright) is top notch. Catherine Cawood is a flawed character and obsessed with finding the man she holds responsible for her daughter's death, but she is a woman I came to care about deeply. For those of you who are more familiar with James Norton as Sidney Chambers in Grantchester, you may or may not like to see that he's equally adept at portraying a very scary bad guy.

The entire cast is splendid, and I have to admit to smiling when I realized that Joe Armstrong (who plays Ashley Cowgill in Happy Valley) is the son of Alun Armstrong, who stars in another of my favorite UK series, New Tricks.

One thing I do want to warn you about is that Happy Valley is tough and gritty, and it can be downright depressing at times. There are sad scenes, surprises, lots of action-- and plenty of good characters to sink your teeth into. Even the theme song is catchy. (" Speed Bump City/The only thing that's pretty/Is the thought of getting out.")

Mister and Miz Kittling give Happy Valley four thumbs up and recommend it to all of you! Now... back to that coverlet....



  1. Oh, I've been wanting to know what Happy Valley was like, Cathy! I can handle tough and gritty, so long as the characters are people I can enjoy getting to know. I may have to check that out. And that bed covering is gorgeous!

    1. Thanks, Margot. I do hope you check out Happy Valley; it's really good.

  2. I've wondered about this show too. I think I will like it and plan to watch it sometime this year. Also nice to know about Alun Armstrong's son. I love New Tricks. As to your knitting - you go, girl!!

  3. That bed covering is lovely. Your guests will be very lucky to sleep under it.

    I liked Happy Valley, too. The acting is excellent. I liked the main character and the actor who plays her. The character acts like a normal person would, given the disasters in her life.

    A good show, but gritty, as you say. I also await season 2, while I wait for the second season of Hinterland and season three of The Bridge.

    1. Yes, I'm looking forward to the next season of Hinterland, too.

  4. Acorn Media has all of these and more, will spoil me. My library has lots of Acorn's dvd sets. I'm binge-watching 10 episodes of The Brief next week, right when I articles due! Yag and uhg.

    1. Sounds like your binge watching and article writing will have an adverse effect on your sleeping.


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