Monday, April 30, 2007


Spring has sprung, the grass has ris


And the dandelions, too. Commonplace little flowers, cause of much derision and hilarity amongst the young, at least. I have vivid memories of being chased around by somebody or other on numerous occasions to be assaulted with a dandelion to accompanying cries of "Now you'll wet the bed!" And nary a one of the Norfolk youth involved knew at that stage that the popular name in French was "pis-en-lit."

Commonplace, but of exceptional value - food, drink, medicine and multiple gleams of sunshine in the early spring. Not that there has been any lack of those in this most exceptional of seasons. Most unnatural, not British at all!

I wonder where dem boidies is?


Possibly - certainly - out there in the trees that have come in to leaf almost without me realising it.

Der little boids is on der wing - no, dat's absoid. Der little wings is on der boid!

Alternatively, there is the completely wingless and even more absoid low-flying siamese cat.....


(Look, there's an open window, a flat surface, and I'm a cat. Do you really expect anything else?

And then - in the spring, a woman's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of.....natural dyeing.

Ivy berries

Fibre in a dyebath made from very ripe ivy berries, prior to heating.

Ivy berries

Fibre in same, but after heating.

You can perhaps imagine that by this stage I am getting very excited!


Fibre removed from dyebath and rinsed....

Ivy berries


It is possible that if I had used a different mordant, I might have got a better result. It may not be apparent from the photograph, but there is (really!) a faint blue-green tinge to the fibre, and just possibly copper might accentuate that. Maybe.

In other news - a really enjoyable day at AH, the mohair seemed to go down well, there were three new people all of whom seemed to have a good time and one of whom was merrily spinning on her new wheel by the end of the day never having touched it before (gotta love 'em!)

And a really enjoyable trip to York to see the last Met broadcast - of Il Trittico, which I shall probably never get the opportunity to see again, and I am so glad to have had this one. It was wondrful - the first two are pretty ghastly stories, and the last a french-style farce, but the music in all is terrific and the performances superb.

And still the fine weather continues, although "they" are threatening us with a storm any time at all.

Better than an earthquake, anyway.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Around and around

I'm remembering those old kiddy playground roundabout things, metal and wood, you stood or sat on them and someone scooted them around, they could build up quite a speed. Except that I always had to flollop (I was a flollopy sort of a kid) off smartish, ears ringing, stomach heaving, head going around and around for a bit.

Somewhat like a hangover in fact.

Somewhat like life at the moment.

We will get there.

I have been a bad blogger, but have been doing stuff. But first....

The Guardian is giving away a series of pamphlets, "Great Speeches of the 20th Century" which I have mostly been ignoring. Today was FDR, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", and as I have always rather related to this phrase without knowing before from whence it came, I had a quick read. Wow. I do wish politicians made speeches like this nowadays.

"Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men" (I would like to think women too, but there you go....)

"They only know the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and where there is no vision, people perish."

"The measure of that restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

"Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort."

"...there must be an end to a conduct of banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing."

Oh, I need to stop doing this, it is all just too much. OK, so the language is flowery, but it is a) political rhetoric and b)1933. We could still do with a few more sentiments like these today.

I also read Claudia's Blog in which, quite apart from a photograph of the delectably handsome Igor, she briefly discussing the constraints of spinning and blogging. With which I broadly concur, in that I do find myself thinking that I won't bother discussing/photographing my latest spinning as it won't be that interesting - so instead I ramble on about something entirely unrelated to fibre that is probably even less so. So, today, you get both. No photographs, can't summon up the energy, still feeling the undesirable effects of the roundabout, but A Catalogue.

On the Timbertops: something red and fluffy from Lambspun, that will join a collection of similar and maybe one day make a shawl.

On the spindles and Lizzie Kate: something violet and fluffy, coincidentally also from Lambspun, that is to make a bag inner (and on the Moosie, but tucked away at the moment, blue silk for the bag outer to be.)

On my new best friend, my utterly wonderful Spindlewood, Shetland roving, the second of four colours (one being done already) also to be bags, and hopefully my first foray into something approaching "fairisle". Or not.

On a Tabachek, some very nice Manx Loghtan roving, and I have no idea what that is going to grow up in to. Bite me.

On spindles various in the workroom, fibres various, samples for Summer School.

And on my Schacht wheel in the same location, lots of mohair samples for my AH class on Friday, and when not that, the Rovings "Mojave", spinning up a dream, and going to be the kimono-style jacket from the latest Knitters.

Not so dusty, eh?

And not to be unfair to knitting, I also have the purl lace socks, nearly completed (I have nearly finished decreasing the instep on the second. Love this pattern! Plus a ball of spindle spun blue stuff queuing up to be a simple scarf/fichu thingy, also for a sample for Summer School.

There is all sorts of other stuff I had meant to blog about, but I really have exhausted us all, methinks.

This blog entry comes to you courtesy of my now fully functional wireless networked Dell laptop, my other new best friend.

Oh, dammit, perhaps things ain't so dusty after all.........

Thursday, April 19, 2007

What to do

What to do? We didn't know. He didn't know, his choice to make this year, as it was mine last. Much debating ensued.

So now, finally, we have the decision and the dead is done - the applications have gone in to attend SOAR! (Just by way of a change....)

This is actually quite a leap of faith on the part of the DSM, as he has anxieties about things getting back to normal. After all, he is still not back at work, and there is the cardioversion to come. But that is all in train, and he has an appointment for the pre-assessment mid-May, with hopefully the procedure to follow to too long afterwards. Might be back at work before that happens anyway. One day at a time, chaps, one day at a time.

In my case, one second at a time this morning, I had the great joy of the dread visit to the white van in the car park. For those not blessed enough to live under the mantle of the NHS, by that I mean it was boob-mashing day. Oh, such fun. Having a total stranger manipulating bits of your anatomy that you would much rather were not there, let alone those you are reasonably happy with. It is not that it hurts, I understand that that is one of the benefits of being ample in the boobage department. It is just the weirdness of the procedure, and of course - of course - that worm of anxiety that this might just be the time......

For reasons quite incomprehensible to me, the Fates always decree that this happens to me at a time when I have more than enough stress in my life without adding any more. Ah, well, all done now, the mashing bit anyway. Fingers crossed about the rest (no reason whatsoever to give concern, I should say.)

Anyway, I decided that given the circumstances, plus the fact that the weather was doing its glorious thing again this morning, that I would overrule the DSM and finish our breakfast interrupted when the Gasman came to call at 8am (it was just one of those mornings, central heating inspection, boob inspection......) So we sat outside by the packhorse bridge over the river and had lattes and croissants and basked.

Because we're worth it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Hand of fate........

I must have mentioned it casually, something said in passing. A few days later, she called around for a looksee. A few days later still, she telephoned, and said "yes, please". And today, she came to collect it.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersehn, our folding Lillestina floor loom.

We had been together for quite a few years, but had never really got to know each other. A warp here, a warp there, often a fair bit of muttering and cursing. All the while, we clung to the notion that we really did want to weave. And it's true - we do. But the Lillestina was not the right loom for us. Too big, too....fiddly. You really did need to know what you were doing, and we didn't, not properly. Oh, we could fudge our way through or around it, but it was always a struggle.

So there she sat, not exactly unloved, but certainly way underused, and a terrible prick to our consciences, and with the itch to weave remaining unsatisfied.

Then three years ago (I think) I did a three day introduction to four shaft weaving at Convergence, and it was amazingly good. I had a great time, and I fell in love. I fell in love with the Schacht Wolf Pup. But that loom is way too small for anything much other than classes or as a sample loom, I suppose. So it was going to have to be a Baby Wolf.

And that is going to be what comes about. The Lillestina has gone to a good home at a fair price, and the DSM is in need of a special birthday present later this year. With the cost being high, it means I get to share too.

So maybe, just maybe we are finally going to.....get weaving. (So sorry!)

Friday, April 13, 2007

In another land

Warning - this is a very photo-heavy post.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to visit my mother. She gave me a not too large box of old photographs, and at one point in the latest schemozzle chez nous, I gave myself a moment or two of peace and browsed through them. Many of them I had seen before, of course, but some of them I never had, and I find myself feeling all sorts of whirling emotions. I want to record and share a few of them here.

There were many of my father as a young man - I haven't included any of those here, they are happy family type shots of young people having fun. I particularly like the ones of him with a group of friends on a walking/camping holiday in Dorset, I think. This was in the 1930s. There is one - I should have included it, on reflection, but haven't, of "Lord Henry and Mr Richard", two dashing, elegant blades standing in a doorway, oozing confidence and noblesse oblige.

But then comes World War 2.

Officer Training Group

This first, I assume, is of my father and the group he did his officer training with. he is front row left. I sadly have no idea who any of the others are.


My father talked very little about the war. I knew he had been in Belgium, but that is about all. Amongst the photos, I found this - an invitation to the formal handover of the City of Brussels from the Allied Army to the Belgians.



And two snatched shots of the parade itself. I have tweaked these a bit (as I have all of them) which I hope makes them more viewable. I feel incredibly moved to know that he was there at such an historic occasion, and I know that because he kept these things, he was all too aware of the significance as well.


And after the parade - the Ball! Sadly, not photographs of that.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty...........

I never knew my maternal grandfather, Len Lake - he died when I was six months old. I did know that he had been an engine driver, a very prestigious job in those days (the elite of the working class, I was once told by a friend) and a reserved occupation. So to find photographs of him with his engine was a real thrill. He looks so proud, every inch aware of the status and the responsibility.

Len Lake

But what I didn't know, and I am again thrilled to find out is that he was also a beekeeper. I'm not sure why it pleases me so greatly - I had heard many tales from my grandmother, his wife, of their respective families who were Norfolk country people and knew all about raising animals, killing chickens, catching coneys and poaching pheasants.....

(no subject)

And then, there was this one, almost the biggest thrill of all - my grandparents were bikers!! I think they look just great, so full of fun and pride in their machine. I would just never have thought to see my grandmother on the back of a bike, which just goes to prove for once and for all that we should never, ever imagine that we see the entire person.

(no subject)

And then there was me, circa early 1950s. I am so familiar with these photographs that I can no longer tell if I can remember the incidents or not. I certainly can't remember the person they depict, and just maybe I should be getting back in touch with her.

Carol and the elephant

Carol and the bear

This last one may bring to mind some reminiscences of the first time SOAR was at Granlibakken and Vicky Yost and I went hurtling off through the kitchen to have a look at the bear rifling through the garbage bins.

This one is, sadly, stuffed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

You can make it if you try....

Even if it has to be one step at a time.

I have been absent from these realms for a day or three, life got a little upheavalish for a while there, but finally showing signs of calming down. The DSM tried a change of medication which decided not to love him, and this involved all sorts of unpleasant if minor carryings on. should all be sorted now, though with no lasting damage to either party.

When all else fails, spinning nourishes and supports the soul. As a consequence, the Rovings is nearly halfway spun, and it has been a pleasant antidote to the turbulence. I have also spindle spun like crazy, a lot on my new best friend (another new best friend, of which more some other time) and I have also tidied up many odds and sods on bobbins and spindles to finish off projects. It all helps.

I have also been knitting, which I tend to like better for middle-of-the-night times, accompanied by the iPod. So one of the purl lace socks is actually completed, and with some relish. Amazing. I am not sure where all this softly-softly approaching lace will lead - I do not actually think too far down the path, I do know the limitations of my own brain, but hey, you never do know anything for 100% certain sure, and I may have had a partial transplant, I suppose. Certainly it feels like it sometimes.......

socks & braids

These are the finished socks from the yarn dyed by Sara. So many thanks, again. The other pair are quite close to completion, too, and much fancier. I'll post those when.......

Then, there are a couple of braids included in the portmanteau shot. The one I like best is the pink ribbon spiral. The flat braid came out rather uneven, and the other spiral is just a quickie on which to hang a pretty dichroic pendant. I need to do more. I need more hours in the day. Sigh.

There are other consolations. the spring weather has by and large been lovely, and we have done a few stroll around the 'hood. what we have for sheep are not exactly the creme de la creme, poor dears, but the lambs are as cool as lambs tend to be, particularly when bouncing, which these are not, but you know what I mean.

sheep and lambs

And then, of course, there are the mogs. When all else fails, in blogs as in life, turn to the mogs. One of each, to be fair.

Max and stash

Which obviously has to be captioned something like "If you don't get this stash sorted out smartish, I am going to drill you with my laser beam eyes....."

And then there is this one, demonstrating what all of us need to do just a little bit more often...

neelix basking

And, no, of course I didn't make the quilt, what do you think I am, an overachiever or something?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Out of time

It felt very odd - one minute we were in the fairly familiar surroundings of Manchester Airport, the next - well, fifty of them, to be more exact - we were in a field in Cornwall. Just over an hour to drive to the airport, fifty minutes flight, just over half an hour to the DMIL's welcoming cup of tea. (This is not counting the two hours check in, but we had lunch and chilled, and learned that this amount of time can well be shaved.) It may not be ecologically sound, but it ain't half convenient, and a dam' sight less tiring than the drive.

It all went very well. We shall do it again. Not too much time to do other than visit, but that was after all the intention, and we did get out on Saturday afternoon....


Guess where - I am sooo predictable.

The sea was not doing anything overly spectacular, so I turned around and took some shots of rocks.




I love the different colours of the stones in this one, and the effect that the water has had creating the greenish algae and so on. I would love to think that one day I will do something of a textile nature with some of these. who knows? It might just happen.

This is not the same place.

Roche Rock

This is Roche Rock, up in mining country, that we stopped for me to photograph on the way back to the airport. More information here, or jfgi.

I have various other things I would like to get in to, like my new spindles (ha!), my completed socks, my new-sock -on-the-needles - but I can't seem to summon up the enthusiasm today. I'm still taking antibiotics for the abscess, which are making me feel weird, and the DSM, although fine in himself is feeling the strain of multiple doctors' appointments, plus facing up to the fact that at some time soon he is going to have to start the process of getting back to work (I write that in a deliberately long-winded way, as it is to be a long-winded process, I hope!)

The SOAR details are up. We still don't know.

Life is full of such uncertainties...........