Monday, February 28, 2005
Chores and Tesco - we won't go there.
Then, the awful discovery that my car - you know, the one that didn't die - might have after all. Blunders on all side, the garages, and mine, but somehow we failed to properly note that it had not passed its MOT on the first attempt, and they neglected to retest it after fixing the problem.
It's all fixed now. And I was told yet again that the poor old dear is on the way out (Oh, how I know that feeling!!) So, we might even go a-hunting next weekend. I have discovered a great tool on the internet whereby you can track down the type of vehicle that you re interested in at a garage near you. Too cool.
And - and. In amongst all of that, I did manage to continue work on the cashmere, and on the shawl. What I was going to say about the latter is interesting to me. I have always been truly pissed off by those snotty knitters who can do the really complicated stuff banging on about how dreadful it is to have all those easy peasy "patterns" out there, and how pathetic the people who make simple scarves and whatever are, they all ought to be giving themselves nervous breakdowns by trying to do some real knitting...Well, ok, so I am exaggerating again, but there is a strong element of superiority about it, and I genuinely get annoyed because there is room in this fibre world for all levels of involvement and ability and anyone who does anything for themselves these days is to be applauded.
However. This shawl is simple garter stitch, and all the yarn is Colinette. Gorgeous yarns, lovely colours and textures. And the thing is as tedious as all get out to knit! Now, I am certain that if I was doing a garter stitch shawl with my own handspun, then I would not be having the same reaction. So obviously, for me, the knowledge that I am creating the entire thing is crucial. Reminds me of the time I tried spinning in gardening gloves, and realised that most of the pleasure of spinning is tactile.
The other thing I did was get back to spindle spinning silk. I found my Bosworth midi with some silk hankies that I had started spinning a while back, and had a very pleasant half hour before bed. I need to get back to the spindle in every room that I was attempting a while back, it is amazing how much gets done that way.
Am I going loopy? Have flickr moved the "view in any size" button? Never mind, I found it eventually.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Apart from the aforementioned expotition to take photos, I stayed home and did - the following:
Made a very quick bead necklace just because I felt like it. I make no claims whatsoever for this to be called actual beading, it is merely very simple stringing. But it is fun! The little dangly bit came from GJBeads in St Ives (Imagine Homer Simpson going in to "donut" mode: ....mmmmm.....beeads......It is quite disgusting!) Back/silver seed beads, black delicas, black something else I can't remember what, like little triangle-shaped seed beads, and fire polished crystals all collected from all over the place.
And then I sat and spun (span?) This is a merino and cashmere mix (80/20) from Ashland Bay that I think Pete won as a door prize at SOAR a year or two back. So why am I spinning it? Because it is intended as a birthday present for his mother who is 90 in September. We think a lacy-ish stole, and his knitting is better than mine whilst I am a faster spinner. I'm not going to dye it, we both of us like the soft beige, and it is a colour that Eileen likes, too. I think the yarn will work out all right, and yes, I did do a sample, which was lovely. I am aiming at a medium fine, softly spun yarn, a bit of a challenge for me as I tend to be a firm (to say the least) spinner. But as I am always telling people that within the parameters of fibre type, we determine the nature of the yarn, not the wheel or whatever, I have to now put my money where the proverbial is.
And for good measure:
It is really quite scary seeing your own yarn photographed and up close and personal. Your - my - relationship with it in the flesh is quite different, and I am finding this both interesting and instructive. Yet another benefit of blogging!
Thursday, February 24, 2005
So, I decided to take myself off out and take a few photos with the digital camera. This was fun, although the wet, soft snow that has been lightly falling since early morning did keep landing on glasses or camera, but what the heck. Actually, without going up in to the woods, there were not so very many interesting shots, because this is wet snow on to wet ground. There has been a breeze as well, so the trees are now clear and there are some thawed patches on the tracks. Still, it was nice to be out, and I love taking photos, brings out the Bailey in me (showing age).
So, here we are:
The view across the river in to the meadow.
Then there is this:
Which is the view up the lane past the cottages. The further one is us.
Remember the dustbin? Looks a little bit more glam with a chapeau of snow! No mogs today. Cats do not go out in snow. At least my two don't, or much anyway.
So, downside, and sadly, there is one. Getting in and out for a few days is going to be hell, because as the overnight snow materialised, I now believe them about the frost. That has meant cancelling the ritual Thursday get together, too (lucky Liz, being in Alabama and missing this!)
But the really nasty thing was.....well, I have this totally barking mad neighbour, to tell all about her at this point would take way to long, but she yells at passers by, and on the whole I tend not to go anywhere near her. And then I tell myself that I am being stupid, of course she won't say or do anything, so there I am doing the Bailey thing, and I get a torrent of abuse. Bloody woman waits until I have got just past her property and am walking away from her, then lets fly with what sounds like something pretty nasty, but I ignore her and walk on. I can never ever decide if this is the best thing, when it happens. Part of me wants to tackle her about it, another part is a coward, and yet another knows that she genuinely does have mental health issues, and that saying anything will improve matters, but maybe make then worse. Grrr.
So, I am giving up the rest of the day to spinning and beading. Much the best thing.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Various elements, including a snowy day, a dying car and a LOT of ironing made me feel that cooking supper was not a good choice for me tonight. So I importuned Sir, and dragged him off to the boozer. I must be tired, two teeny weeny little glasses of Chilean merlot and I'm all over the place.
Apart from the dratted ironing, enough to drive anyone to drink, I have today knitted several more inches of The Shawl, of which, more discourse in a subsequent entry, and decided that I desperately need a bead necklace in black and bone, involving crystals. And that I should do one similar for my oldest mate, whose third hen night I am not going to be able to attend in June. Yes, third. Third nuptuals, third husband. No further words on this shall pass my lips.
Howsumdever. Amongst the ironing was this silk scarf, an experiment. I had several madder residues from classes last summer hanging around, and I stuffed various things in to them and left them alone. To the elements, I might add, they really did freeze once or twice. Which might explain the lack of conspicuous success with this experiment? Where did all the madder red go? All I seem to have is a yellowy peach. Tant pis, I learnt something, that's what matters!!
I'm not at all sure that the colour is going to come out right, but can't tell at this point. Let's give it a go.
It is, by the way, a beautiful night, clear, with a full moon and a gentle frost. They are threatening us with a lot of snow overnight, but I don't believe it. Watch this space.
Monday, February 21, 2005
I have come across a fair bit of discussion around this of late. I think it must be Spring. Those first gleams of sunshine coming through the windows...or trying to. And failing, because the accumulated crud of the last twelve months since the previous spring prevents any meaningful passage. So, friends, bloggers, we are all dancing around the topic.
One of my class members, a delightful older woman, told me on Friday that she only does it when it impinges itself on her consciousness, when, in fact, she realises that it actually needs doing. I thought at the time that this was quite a sensible approach. Over the weekend, my abode was throwing itself at me screaming, we were both screaming, we can't stand it any longer..So today, I started cleaning. Now, this is something that I HATE to do, with the possible exception of times like this when the baseline is so indescribably bad that whatever I do makes a huge improvement and I can kid myself for a day or two that I live in a sparkling palace that is not actually a health hazard. This is not deep-clean, you understand. It is one hundred percent better than earlier today, but do not go venturing off the marked trails. And this is only downstairs, upstairs remains to be crept up on. (Except, for those of you who are by now feeling extremely queasy, in the case of the bathroom, where I do wield cloths and chemicals on a regular basis. And the top of the cooker. Especially when I have spilt dye solutions on there...)
How many of us say that we do not do housework, and mean it? Most people's homes that I visit look more than presentable. I can think of a couple of instances when , in one case, the place did look grubby, and another where because of the lifetime collection of fascinating things, there was no way in which the inhabitants could ever have cleaned. And no, I am not going to tell you who either of them were!
So, possibly we all do the "OhMyGod, there's company coming" blue-arsed fly routine (Me! Me!) Or - we have cleaners. Now, I used to subscribe to the "everyone should clear up their own mess" philosophy until I realised that this only seemed to apply to part of the household. (The mogs were exceptionally bad at getting the vac and duster out.) So I have had cleaners a couple of times, and bliss was it in those dawns to be alive. It was so worth getting up early in order to rush around tidying up before the cleaner came. But one returned to University, one disappeared up her own pyramid investment scam and the other got a better full-time job elsewhere, and good for her. So now I'm back to saying that I don't do housework, wondering if so-and-so really doesn't do it, and begrudging every minute when I actually do it.
But I have found a few minutes to play:
Not a brilliant photo, but it's going to look pretty, I think.
Sunday, February 20, 2005
And just before it got too damn cold, as the sun went behind the hill, I took a couple of photos.
This is the completed tapestry crochet bag. I loved this technique, and was determined to actually make something using it before I forgot how to do it. So, I bough some yarn that I hoped would be suitable, although I am not entirely sure that it is. Wool and sari silk, with some sari silk yarn added in to the handle, and to make the twisted fringe. What weird stuff! I can't think of too many uses for it, very stiff and difficult to manipulate. And just look how "hairy" the fringe it. Still, the bag has come out ok, and I not only like it but will probably use it, although it has come out a little smaller than I need.
Then, yesterday, I was chatting away about this and that, including shawls, and was reminded that a couple of years ago a friend brought me a kilo bag of Colinette bin ends (they sell them from the factory at a ludicrous price). I had never really known what to do with it all, but suddenly light dawned, and an oddball shawl seemed a good idea.
(Before anyone shouts at me, I haven't forgotten the weaving project!)
And finally.......just to jump on the bandwagon: -
and Neelix (yes, that's right, Neelix not Felix!).....
and the usual view of the pair of them disappearing out of view ( note the silly tulips coming up too early, and the gorgeous shot of the dustbin.)
Golly - that's enough for about a month!
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Guild today, and the scheduled programme was called something like "Wheel and spinning clinic". OK, so not the most imaginative of titles, but descriptive, one would have thought, and we are probably a guild with more spinners than weavers.....By kicking-off time, I think we had mustered around a dozen, and a tiny handful more trickled in over half an hour or so. Right, we had got the enthusiasts.
This event was to be fronted by me, Freyalyn and Magrat, but not as "teachers", simply starting things off and acting as possible advisors. We emphasised that this was to be a skill-sharing thing. I had volunteered (yes, I know, I had said that my mouth was going to be firmly shut from now on, but what can you do....)to open with a brief homily on how to check over your wheel on a regular basis and The Importance Of Oiling. (Not for six months in one case. I say no more.) Now, to questions.
As they say, Nothing, Zip, Nada. It got embarrassing. One brave soul did ask in a fairly half hearted sort of way how to deal with multi-coloured roving - I got Deb Menz's "Color in Spinning" out of the library cupboard, and she went away happy. Pete started a round the room thread of what were we all spinning, which it was like getting hens' teeth drawn to complete. And then we all gave up and just chatted, which was very pleasant. Really.
But I did feel kind of.....what? This could have been fun, it was certainly not intended to be an ego trip for any of us, we three of us were happy to talk about a subject dear to our hearts, hear what others had to say, maybe learn something new ourselves, and help other guild members if appropriate. But no one else was interested, many of them to the extent that they didn't even turn up. If that is the case, then that is their prerogative, and I shouldn't feel dischuffed about it, but I do. OK, so the problem is mine then! That's that cleared up.
Good side - I got an entire bobbin of Wensleydale spun that will make nice socks, and I worked out what my next knitting project is going to be. What more can a lass want, eh??
Got the bag finished, photos tomorrow, hopefully.
Friday, February 18, 2005
Good class - nice day. I ran through longwool and lustre with them, took in Wensleydale both as tops and some lovely very dark fleece, Masham and Lincoln Longwool for them to play with once they were tired of me droning on. Then, we are still doing subsidiary topics and today's was plying, which also went ok. We then sat and discussed what the next programme might cover, and they were all very into it, suggesting quite a few things (one of which is going to necessitate me persuading Magrat to come over and do a party piece for me, and I'm not sure how I fancy my chances with that!) So, I feel somewhat better about the class than I have for a while. Plus, there may be some chance of one, or maybe even two residential weekend classes this year, in both spinning and natural dyeing, both of which I fancy tackling. The task for next week - getting the proposals in quick-smart.
My class was one of the things I was talking about in the latest blog post to disappear. Seemingly, just getting it written down helped clear my head about things, not really so much of a surprise. In essence - most of the participants have been coming for a long time, and really only want to sit and spin and chat. I am contracted to - and want to - teach them something about the art of spinning (and other things). Today, I feel that I managed the compromise rather better, the ratio between teaching/demonstrating/whatever and sitting and chatting with them. After all, if they chose not to produce several mini-skeins of samples, as a Retreat class at SOAR would, then that is their choice!
Latest FO? A cake! But I didn't remember to take a photo before it got eaten. I don't usually bake these days, but it was My Turn last night. A chocolate cake, no less, from a Jeanne Lemlin cook book. Very nice. I keep wondering how it would work in coffee.....
But there might be a FO for real tomorrow, the tapestry crochet bag is nearly done. It's pretty good for a first effort. Felt all wrong using commercial yarn, though.
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
Yesterday, I spent an age writing this wonderful blog entry all about...well, never mind, I'll do it again some time. Yes, that's right, Blogger ate it. Come to think of it, the previous post that happened to was also a stream-of-consciousness deep and meaningful. Maybe this blog has a soul, and is trying to tell me something from time to time.
So, today's effort. I may just have been pointed in the right direction for taking another step forward in the photosaga (thank you for trying, Sara!) I have clicked a few clicks, and will give it a go.
This, should it appear, is a newly finished object. A herringbone, or ndebele rope necklace. The beads are in two shades of purple (plus white size 8s), seemingly a shade quite difficult to capture with the camera, as I tried a few times. And just why they should show up best on my pink bath towel I do not know. It is not a great piece, but I finished it, which is the main thing, thereby learning the technique, which I like. I need to work on the tension, as indeed I do with everything I bead. I think I am afraid of breaking something, whether the thread, beads or me, I am not sure.
So....here we go:
Monday, February 14, 2005
And finally, a first photo of Cornwall. Not the typical Cornish seascape, I might post some of those later. This is taken in to the sun setting over Falmouth, the afternoon before Ellen MacArthur sailed back in. We had hoped to go back here to watch the triumphant entry, but it wasn't to be - probably couldn't have got onto the headland anyway! Just before this was taken, we had been in a hide around the other side of the headland watching a peregrine just sitting quietly. Beautiful.
Not a new piece, this. It would have been blogged earlier, but.......
The fibre is "Parrots", some of Rovings Polwarth, and I love it - I want to get some more some time, if I can think what to do with it. I spun it S and then crocheted this entirely without a pattern although I did have the idea of a Chinese kite in my mind, heaven alone knows why. I rather like the end result, although it has been described as "wearable art" somewhat in the manner of "oh my god, what the hell is that, but I'd better be polite". H'mm. Looking at this again, I am thinking larger, and pillar box red.....
I have to admit that I didn't actually start the socks whilst in Cornwall, they have, as previously reported, been on the go for a while. But I did finish them. Multi-coloured stripeys are my favourites - I didn't dye these myself, but I could have!!
The wristwarmers are knitted from some lovely yarn spun from a Treenway mix of cashmere, silk and merino, so soft and warm-feeling to the touch. Dead easy, mindless knitting, of course, great for when a passenger in either the car, or the DMIL's sitting room. She rather liked them - I might well do another pair for her, these being sized for me. Garter stitch with a simple yarn-over motif randomly executed. (Me? Follow a set pattern? No chance....)
Sunday, February 13, 2005
In short, not a bad week at all. DMIL was seemingly very well, if obviously lonely, and I can't always resist some small feelings of crossness. But she is great, really, and always so interested in what I am doing, which is more than...oh, shut up, Carol.
The weather not being toadaly* brilliant, did actually do a lot of the things that I had wanted to do - listen to lots of music, including the whole of Otello and Falstaff, not to mention the Beatles number ones and some Dire Straits, just to show that we are not complete cultural snobs. Plus finishing the socks, doing a pair of wristwarmers, and a large chunk of a tapestry crochet bag that so far is working out quite well. I also set up my charka and did spend a couple of evenings with that. Which I did enjoy, but the main problem is getting in to the correct physical position, which is much harder than you might imagine. I actually think that I might have done better getting the smaller Bosworth charka, from that point of view....too late now. Otherwise, it is a great tool and I do like using it, so will make every effort to Keep Up The Good Work.
I did also bead a bit, have nearly got to the end of the purple herringbone rope. Also, visited two beads shops. The one in St Ives was probably the best I have seen in the UK - good job I am only likely to get there once or twice a year, but they have a very good catalogue, and having seen them in person, I will order quite happily now. But as I have enough beads and ideas in my head to last for the next millennium - (I am exaggerating, and anyway, just what has that got to do with the price of fish??)
The big news whilst down in Cornwall was the announcement of the engagement of dear Charles and Camilla. Yawn. (So, why am I reading all about it in the papers, then, eh? Answer me that.) Actually, reading through all the twaddle does make me see even more clearly just what an irrelevance it all is to life as she is lived by most of us. However, as the new ma'am is to be known as Duchess (per-lease!) of Cornwall, the media were out there doing vox pops all over the place. The Cornish were not too thrilled with the notion, I can tell you. Then, today's paper came up with the brilliant suggestion that they are doing it now in order to help get some regularity back into Harry's life. Dear gawd almighty. Any fule no what ails him. Firstly, too much money, and people bowing and scraping to him, plus other stuff no doubt. But wise old grannyw said at the funeral of his mother, there will be trouble with that lad, you mark my words - and I was right. Poor little shrimp, parents warring in private and public, and then having to go through that horrendous funeral wearing the Battenburg stiff upper lip, marching along between adults who in another era would have been meeting at dawn with swords and seconds, snarling over the funeral baked meats, watched over all by the others in that disfunctional family with grim disapproval writ large on their faces. It was horrible to see. He needed to be allowed to blub away to his heart's release, and then quite possibly handed over to some nice normal counsellor to help sort him out. Can't you just see that happening!
*I'm going to return to toads at this point. (Indeed, though - had I left them??) Friday morning, spring sprung hugely obviously on our own doormat at the cottage, with a pair of toads, linked seemingly for all time in coitus uninterruptus. We moved them very carefully so we didn't have to keep stepping over them, and they were last seen lurching away through the wet grass, still one on top of the other. I do hope that moving them didn't render them permanently inseparable....
And I will return to fibre, FO's and other more relevant stuff - tomorrow? Soon.
Nice to be back.
Friday, February 04, 2005
When we go off anywhere, the cats go in to prison (a pretty luxurious feline-exclusive boarding cattery). They have Learned The Signs, no matter how devious I am - this task nearly always falls to me. When they were younger, they used to fly around in all directions, capture by rugby tackle wss not unknown, but now they have reached years of maturity, they go to ground, make themselves as small and silent as possible. This has its disadvantages too, of course. If "ground" is under the bed, it necessitates me at full length and full stretch and a lot of undignified dragging and language on both parts. That didn't happen this morning, fortunately.
This is all a digression, to explain why I was a little on edge and trying to get things done quickly and unobtrusively.
I have this great pair of - well, I think of them as "jodhpur boots", hangover from some of my reading as an impressionable che-ild. (Oh, Pullein-Thomson sisters, where are you now?) Elastic sided ankle boots, anyway. These were the last thing to go on before the final approach. Suddenly, my mood down-shifted, anxiety intensified, physical state moved from ok to h'mm...WTF?? It wasn't until I had got as far as rounding up cat box and basket, blankets and so on, that I realised. I had pushed the boots on to the wrong feet.
So, this sounds silly, but it was an amazing revelation to me, that something so simple could turn the world around on its axis. From now on, I will carefully check for objects all awry before deciding that I am stressed out of my skull. The scope is endless - bra underwires, they could be responsible for a lot. Loads of other stuff. I may just have a whole new modus vivendi here!
Thursday, February 03, 2005
In that, it's a photo of a crochet sample for the next project, plus some wittering - and the wittering has come to pass, by which I mean that I am going to seriously investigate WEAVING the yarn in question.
I did a three day introduction to four-shaft weaving course at Convergence last year which was incredibly good. Very no-nonsense, basic stuff. We whapped on two little warps all by ourselves, which was exactly what I wanted. The actual weaving was quite a revelation to me - everything that I had been shown or told previously had to go out the window. Warps did not have to be particularly taut on the loom, and we were positively shouted at if we beat down to hard! Now, I do know that it is as ever a case of "it depends". But in this instance, what we were shown should work with what I have.
So, when I get back from Cornwall, I am going to attempt the maths to see if I have enough to do what I want to do, and then give it a go. (Always supposing that I don't get another mad idea in the meantime, or bottle out.)
Yes, Cornwall, we are off to spend the week in our usual winter cottage, near to Pete's mum. The advantage of the farm is that they have a little heated indoor swimming pool, so if the weather is frightful we can get some civilised exercise. But the last couple of years, the weather has been balmy and springlike, we have spent lots of time outside, including picnicking on beaches various, or sitting out on the patio at the back of the cottage with cups of coffee. Writing that, I nearly shivered with delight - I do hope we get the same this year, even though winter should not yet be over. The thought of a gently bask...ok, don;t get overexcited, I'm not talking Floridian temperatures here! Just, nice enough to sit comfortably out of the wind wearing jeans and sweatshirts.
The car needs to be packed with holiday essentials. These include: knitting, beading, crochet stuff (I'm finally attempting a tapestry crochet bag in a wool/sari silk mix that I bought at SOAR last year) and my Bosworth charka with a supply of cotton, oh, and spindles. Then, various books both light and heavy, and music cds. We always take far more than we can ever hope to get stuck in to, but it's the travelling hopefully thing, the potential for having time to spend on all this stuff. Plus, I tend to take something with me when spending time with Pete's mum. She is lovely, and I enjoy visiting, but the pair of them chat away and I find myself quiet in my corner, believe it or not. They are not excluding me, it just works out that way.
It should be a nice week whatever. I'll take some photos!
OK, let's try again - I attempted to upload this yesterday, but it got mired in a no-man's-land between Blogger's edit page and my actual blog. Of course, we could now get two versions....
So, I have set hook to yarn. And, really, I dunno. This is where spinning for a project can fall down with a gawdalmighty crash. When I spun this yarn, from a roving dyed by Freyalynn, I had just finished a crochet shawl that I rather liked, but felt that I Could Do Better. So, this got spun for crochet, ie as an S-spun single. Which means that I am stuck with it, if I try knitting with it, it will fall apart in me hands, guv. Or, there is quite a risk of that, anyway. But now I am in to that do I really like crochet any more whine (in truth, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't, nothing like being decisive, eh??) What I need is to come up with a shape that I like, as with the previous shawl. I did a trawl through patterns online earlier, seeking inspiration. Oh, yuck. I suppose, for me, the dilemma is that I love doing crochet, the physical act of forming a fabric with a hook in that way, it feels good in my hands. Familiarity, maybe? But all too often, the end result is just so...well, yuck does describe it pretty well! (I don't feel that the same is true of the tapestry crochet style, but that is not really good for clothing, too boardlike. Excellent for bags, though.) I do sometimes see designs from other people that I like - I actually think that it has something to do with my style of spinning, which tends to the firmly twisted, worsted, crisp variety. With a softer yarn, the stitches bed in rather better, possibly. There is one alternative that keeps sneaking up on me from behind. Could I weave with this yarn? It's the thought of attempting it and having the entire thing disintegrate on me, and having to confess to Freyalynn that I had wasted all her work as well as mine........and even if it did work out, just whatever would I do with the fabric? Excuse me while I just pull the duvet over my head!
Tuesday, February 01, 2005
It's done! I sat and finished the last few tidyings up whilst chatting with the coven, who gathered chez moi today. And of course, I have managed to photograph it so that immediately centre stage are two dark blue squares together, standing out like the proverbial. It really doesn't show up like that for real! Too dark now to do the photos over again, and not really worth it, anyway. Now I need go away and think about what I have learned from this experience, it's quite a lot. And I need to ponder the design for the crochet waistcoat, oops, no I mean shawl....guess what, I'm at it again.
But for the moment, I am going to enjoy my thick, warm, cushy* lap rug.
*When I was a kid, growing up in rural Norfolk, "cushies" were sweeties. I've never heard the word since. Don't know the origin of it. If anyone out there also knows of it........