Monday, July 30, 2007

First words from Summer School


We are safely here, and spinning!

The campus is super. Our rooms, both sleeping quarters and teaching space are excellent. A lot of very healthy walking, though, up hill first thing in the morning, which can be trying!

I finally got internet access this evening, courtesy of a borrowed network cable - the wifi in out teaching room is a poor signal and very slow. As a consequence, having to deal with an unfamiliar way of doing things, this will be brief. I will try to do better on Wednesday when we get the afternoon free. But all is going well so far, although it did seem exceedingly strange to be sitting in a pit in front of several tiers of grinning students! (I might have a photo of that, I'll hunt.)

One more photo, if I can get Internet Explorer to behave - people might moan about AOL, but it is better than IE, IMHO.

summer school

I'm definitely giving up for the night, strange things keep happening on this machine - I need more gin!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Well, looky!

Between us, the DSM and I managed to get some software on to the laptop so I can upload new photographs directly to it. Amazing! It turned out much easier than I had thought, I had used the wrong search parameters on my previous attempt, so when I tried again I was more careful and hence successful. Whoop de do.

So here we have :

spindle spun silk bag

An amulet purse sized bag in white spindle spun silk with some clear AB delicas as fringe. I am undecided as to whether or not to go further with the embellishments - I had originally intended to use fabric paints, but am scared of ruining it before the class. So I will wait until afterwards and review the situation.. I am still inclined to have a go.

Then there is this:

spindle spun silk scarf

This is also spindle spun, silk cap that was my nights when I couldn't sleep project for ages. There wasn't all that much, so I made it into a very long, thin scarf, more like a lariat I suppose. I put charms on the ends partly for weight and partly to jazz up something rather ordinary. In the end, though, I rather like it, and it makes a splendid advertisement for having spindles all over the house for those spare moments........

Other than that, I have been frantically trying to finish the other bag and am now realising that I am running out of silk yarn. Never mind, it can be work in progress, and I can either rip out both layers and start again from the beginning, or adapt, adopt and improvise at some point in the future. I will finish it, the yarns are good.

I may or may not blog again before we leave. However, I should have wifi at the college, so I will try to blog during the week we are at Falmouth. If I have time and energy enough! For one thing, my three year blogoversary falls during next week, so I ought to mark the occasion somehow. But everything seems to be more or less on track, apart from my back having gone bad on me again, what consummate timing. Fingers crossed.....mind you, next week I won't have to share my bed with two hulking felines, so that might help.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

It's all over now

Yesterday was our Guild birthday party - 25 glorious years. A really nice day, lots of people there, former members, newish members, all happy and chatting. We had between us created a super lunch, too, never a bad thing.

I took a spindle, of course, and spun quite a bit more of the English top from Freyalynn that is destined to be navajo plyed - before next weekend......Or maybe next Sunday, as the Lizzie Kate is now packed.

Most stuff is rounded up and packed, very little remaining to do. The DSM has done the photocopying, bless him, so too late now to make any revisions to the deathless prose. WE have yet to gather a few small bits and pieces, mainly tools for setting up the folders - with 24 participants, we felt we might just leave that chore until the last minute or even to the students themselves! (How mean!)

He is working on some very nice fingerless mitts for me from the spindle spun Shetland in four colours that I did a while back - I am still grappling with the bag, and there was no way I was going to get them done. Traditional fairisle patters, they look great.

However - before setting off for Bradford, I had to wait for the postman to come. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I managed to read one and a half chapters before leaving and whilst the DSM put fuel in the car. Then I was very, very good and didn't touch it until home from Guild. By bedtime, I was more than half-way through.

I read quite a bit more over breakfast, but then we had to leave for York to see the mater. That was surely an interesting visit. She came out of her room as we approached, looking for the staff who were supposed to be changing her sheets - she had told them it needed doing early as she had visitors coming. Whilst they worked, she hassled them about all sorts of things, about the bed, about various things in the room - all of which did need doing at some point, but not on a Sunday when they were short-staffed and had a really sick inmate on their hands. I was impressed, they remained courteous, but by the time they left, there was a distinct note in their voices. I knew that she had always done this with me, but I really hadn't realised that she did it with them as well. I had checked with the staff member who had done the drinks round - and they always offer something to visitors - if she wanted me to take my cup anywhere. She had said not, leave it for her to collect on her next tour. So the mater demands that I do remove it as we make our move. In the event, I forgot, as another demand intervened. Heigh ho.

I know, I know. It's the only power she has left, it's only small stuff, I should be more tolerant. Well, maybe.

Had a very nice lunch in a pub not too far up the road, a real find for these trips. Then home, and I got down to finishing HP, which I have now done. I won't say much at this juncture, too soon. But I did like it, in the main. I think, personally, it is the best, certainly the tightest written (edited?) Whilst I hear the criticism that there is a lot of death in it - and there surely is - it is consistent with what the story is all about. There is already controversy about the Epilogue, which I liked as far as it went, but if it is there at all, it needed in my opinion to be rather more comprehensive. But I was grateful for what there was.

But - and I'm sorry if this sounds totally loopy for one of my advanced years - it seems so strange now that it is all over. Actually, I have the same sense of (overstating it) loss as when the LotR films finished. But HP has been around for so many years, with all the speculations. Very little of my guesses were right, of course. I got close in one thing, but was spectacularly wrong in most. Probably too old.........

Strange times.

Friday, July 20, 2007

You can make it if you try

Last night, I was severely taken to task because I had not blogged for such a long time. Well, yes. Many, many reasons.

I was busy - "little" stuff to finish.

I wanted to put in photographs and wasn't getting a roundtuit.

Life-as-she-is-lived was getting a bit fraught.

As we seem to be back on an up-swing, lets play catch-up, photoless. Again.

Went to an OurTown Arts Festival event, a telling of "Beowulf" by Hugh Lupton Magic. I definitely need to find myself some more storytelling events to go to - but I say that every year! Maybe this time, I will. I love the way you can get lost in the sounds and see a picture of what is happening in your mind. Well, I can, anyway. Beats television hands down every time.

Friday was an AH day. It was good, if busy. Three essentially complete beginners. One was fighting with her wheel, and I could not suss out what was wrong. It was a very old Ashford Traveller - not the classic "my neighbour makes wheels" sort, than goodness, and maybe it just needed completely stripping down, cleaning, oiling, tightening up, and etc. She had looked at books and had more than a clue. The other two were very pleasant women, but just on a good day out. One was getting it, the other not. Until finally I overrode her objections and gave her a spindle and showed her "park and draft" (note to self - please stop tendency to call that park and ride....)

Friday was also the DSM's 60th birthday. Yes, I know, I shouldn't have been working. I was caught to give dates at an inopportune moment and didn't realise until it was too late to change. We had gone through all sorts of possibilities for what he might do; in the end, he wasn't up to doing anything very much. I persuaded him to take me to AH and pick me up again at tea time, joining us (the us including M&F, which was nice) for tea. I took in some candles, and asked the staff if one could possibly be put on a piece of cake for him without contravening Health and Safety regs. They did him proud - a large piece, practically equivalent to a proper one, chocolate butter cream and coffee "beans" on the top, and all six candles. Plus a round of "Happy Birthday to you" and a kiss or two. Very sweet, and he appreciated it.

Then the two of us went for a Thai meal and did have a quiet and lovely time. So in all, it wasn't too bad. But he needs - deserves - a proper bash in the fullness of time.

Pennie came over the next day, which was a good thing for me at least, as the DSM was in a bit of a state, and retired to his room eventually. Actually, it did him a lot of good, and he did a lot of positive thinking. As a result he devised some new strategies, and saw the gp again and things are definitely beginning to look up. Quite a relief, for both of us.

Which meant he felt ok about going to see the new Harry Potter film. Excellent, it was. Very pared down, but well done, special effects much improved, young Dan'l developing as an actor, and the eye-candy of the Weasley twins. And - tomorrow is the Big Day. It's Guild - dare I take the book in with me and sit in a corner reading it? Probably not, on balance. Strange to think that after all these years, We Shall Know All.

Amusing thing about going to see HP at the cinema. Not only were we the oldest pair there by a long chalk, but we had joy of getting in at Seniors rates. Ha!

I seem to have been doing a lot of running about on the spot, standing almost still, not accomplishing much. Not true, I suppose. I have been rounding things up, spinning yet more samples (flax is hell on a spindle!), trying to get the new double layer bag finished, casting on a pair of socks for travel knitting. I have such plans for life after Cornwall - I've been stash-diving, and have come up with some goodies, I have the Sheep Thrills exchange hat to make. All sorts of stuff.

And I have a cunning plan. When the dust is well and truly settled, I am going to run away to sea - at least, to a cottage by the sea. All alone, just me and my iPod and my knitting and spinning and music and books and camera and the sea to sit by and walk by and look at.

A little bit of ozone and peace.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Some good stuff

A pictureless post, but I will remedy that at some point.

That which was lost shall be found! The yarns for the double layer bag, spindle spun and needed for SS, disappeared. But the DSM made up for much - in searching for something else, he found it buried in a little basket. So I cast on and am halfway into the inner one, and the yarn is lovely.

Except it makes my eyes and nose itch because it has angora in it, bother it. It wasn't too bad when I was spinning it, but the yarn is teeny and the needles are teeny and I somehow have to hold it quite close to my face. Well, not actually touching my nose, but nearer than when spinning, anyway.

So that is one item of good stuff.

The other is much better! We had a visit from a SOAR friend last night, plus husband and two teenagers, who were all lovely. Fortunately, I had planned an absolutely no-fuss supper, as they were over an hour later than they had said - no-one takes our little British roads seriously, it may not be all that far in miles but in traffic density and bends, it is!

Still, we all hung out in the kitchen over cups of tea, while I threw ingredients into a pan and made pasta - the salad was all ready, and I just had strawbs, rasps and redcurrants for pudding. Sat over the dinner table for ages clearing our plates, then just sat talking in the more comfortable chairs until really quite late.

It was...well, a real treat. I am going to miss seeing my friends at SOAR quite a lot this year, so this was a not-so-small consolation prize. Plus getting to meet the rest of the family as well, something that doesn't so often happen. Mind you, I opened my big gob with a remark about margaritas and the strength thereof, and got a metaphorical dig in the ribs.......oops.

So, I need to go play with my hackle, prepare some samples for Friday's AH class. By golly, that's come around fast. And Beowulf tonight, another really good treat. Might try to sneak my camera down to the theatre.....

And finally....It Is Not Raining, day 3. Wow.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

This blog entry may or may not get a title. First off, the one I wanted to use, I have used before - I think I may have been guilty of that a time or two. It's my age, you know. Secondly, at the moment, Blogger isn't letting me actually put anything in the title box - perhaps it knew? That would be clever......

Let's try again.........nope. Ay di mi, or however you spell it. That, my dears is just life a the moment.

It is probably not much of a secret that aforementioned life is a bit frazzled around the edges at the moment. But yesterday, I had some time out. A world away, kind of. Not so far as the crow flies, but in other respects - well.

Our Town has an excellent Arts Festival (goes so well with the organic veg shops and cafe, the galleries and the oh-so-funky shoe shop, making a note to self to visit all of those in the next few days) We usually manage to get to a few events, and over the years have had some really good times with stand-ups various, lecturers of a leftish persuasion, or even a combination of the two as personified by Jeremy Hardy. Definitely one of the outstanding evenings! Another great favourite is a story-teller, Hugh Lupton, but more of that later in the week.

But yesterday, for the first time, we went to a musical recital that is an annual highlight for many. It is given by a professional pianist who is also a scion of the local land-owning family, and so takes place in what I imagine is called "the music room" in one of their homes near us. Very near us, as I said. But where we are in a valley, this place is up on the tops. As in:


I didn't actually take this photo, my camera did go with me, but it was so blustery that I never got around to getting it out. But it was taken near the place I am talking about and shows what the landscape is like beautifully.

I hadn't quite known what to expect. But in the event, apart from covering myself with ignominy by having an explosive coughing fit and having to make an exit smartish, I loved every minute of it. In fact, the exit worked to my advantage, we had been saved seats by a friend in the first row practically on top of the piano, which I was not comfortable with. Retreating to the hallway, to a more comfortable chair and without any reverberation from the instrument was much better, plus I got to chat briefly with the soloist in her retreats between pieces!

It was just so wonderful to sit and do nothing but listen to music for a while. Especially music that was being created as I listened, much as I love my cd collection, there is nothing, but nothing that beats live performance. It was a very interesting selection of pieces, Scarlatti, Clementi, Chopin and Liszt, but also Janacek - an excellent, evocative work - and a modern piece by someone I had never heard of, but who was sitting in the audience. Antonin Tucapsky. I enjoyed it a lot, would need to hear it again to write more than that!

The other "out of body experience" only dawned on me slowly. Both my parents worked at various times for what used to be called "gentleman farmers". So in my youth, I sometimes got taken to visit, or otherwise spend the day at, country houses just like the one we were in yesterday. The slightly shabby chic - furniture and curtains etc that were of good quality to begin with and don't wear out in a hurry, just fade gracefully. A particular and eternal style of fabric, wallpaper, carpeting. Family portraits, collections of china, silver, photographs, gathered over the years. Our tea served in what was probably not the best china, but Minton none the less. With tea from a good old brown pot.

So whilst it was not my actual childhood, it was some small echo from a part of it, and I found that very comforting.

And having said all of that. The small thing that gives me the most pleasurable frisson is that in my reality now, this minute, I live in one of the cottages that were once a part of of this estate. I don't know which estate worker lived here before me - water bailiff? Gamekeeper? (That would be a good giggle, given that on my mother's side, I come from a long line of poachers.) Must find out one day.

In case anyone should think that no fibre at all has slipped between my fingers, I have been turning the cabled silk - which is very nice indeed - into a tiny neck purse. Well, what else would it be seeing as it is moi? Just finishing a sample square to paint and embellish. Pics when done if halfway passable.

Oh, and by the by, it is raining...........

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gimme shelter

We drove home via Wastwater, a favourite spot of the DSM's. I tend to find it, yes, beautiful, but a little grim. Mind you, this may be because my view is somewhat coloured by memories of once doing the circumnavigation, all twelve miles of it with a hideous chunk across the bottom of the Screes....boy, was that a long time ago!

You can easily see from the following photographs that the weather was.....not good.



And who knew? there is a Gull Island in the lake (the noise, even from within the car, window open, was tremendous.

Gull Island

Then, of course, there were sheep.

Another herdwick

And there would be a photo of a herdwick lamb, but Flickr is playing silly bs. Although the image is there on Flickr, if I click on it I simply get taken to "comments". And I can't re-upload it at the moment because the original is on the pc which isn't switched on, and oh screw it, it isn't that great a photo anyway!

Moving on. There is, on the fringes of the southern Lakes this wonderful institution called "Laal Ratty", or, if you want to be formal, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. In the most amazingly serendipitous happenstance, we arrived at the station at the end of the line just as they were turning the engine on the turntable. Enjoy!


Ratty again

More ratty

And then, just to prove that it was still raining, probably worse than ever, here is somewhere in the Hardknott/Wrynose area. I perhaps should confess that whilst I do demonstrably know how to spell "Wrynose", in my mind I always see it as "Rhino's"....whoever he was.

Hardknott and Wrynose

We stopped for lunch at a pub that we had been to a couple of times in the dim and distant past that I had really wanted to get back to, and that has a terrific reputation for atmosphere and excellent food.

Totally exceeded our expectations. We were feeling damp and tired, definitely a bit on the despondent side one way and another. But sitting in comfortable leather armchairs in the window of a beautiful old building, eating the very best butternut squash soup I have ever tasted (that is me, the Soup Queen, speaking, remember) followed by smoked salmon and tartare sauce sandwiches, bread with both homemade - well, talk about heaven. Certainly uplifted our spirits a bit, I can tell you.

Then home again, home again - few hold-ups on the M6 notwithstanding - and a few days of recovery. And rain.

And rain. Some respite today, but summer it ain't. Someone send me a ritual I can do, or something.

For....somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something - bad.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Before anything else - will someone please turn the bloody rain off!!!!! It is lashing down on the window above my head (and everywhere else, of course) and driving me utterly loopy. Enough! There won't be a water shortage until about 2020 if it doesn't rain for another minute - the ground is completely saturated, step on any patch that isn't tarmac, rock or whatever similar and you squelch in up to your ankles. The rivers are swollen, there is run-off cascading out of drains, through stone walls, over the fields......

I'll shut up about it. Mostly.

So, to Woolfest What to say? It was as ever, hugely enjoyable. We saw loads of friends, lots of interesting stuff. Didn't buy much - I actually felt mind-boggled by the number of stalls and variety of wares, plus feeling that I couldn't take too much time to browse.

We arrived rather later than I had wanted, but still in plenty of time to unload and set up. It was, of course, raining, but we had organised everything pretty well into convenient for carrying bags &etc, so it only took a few trips. Freyalyn was already more or less set, and the stall divided neatly into us and them. It all looked very good.

Went off to book in to the hotel, have a bit of a rest and then go back over to the auction mart for the tutors and exhibitors reception, which was pleasant but not overwhelmingly exciting. I spent some time chatting with Donna Druchunas and her husband, which was nice.

Then we went back to the hotel for dinner. Booked for 8.15, the restaurant was in chaos because "they were so busy". They were telling another couple who hadn't booked a table that they would fit them in but it would be a long the event, they were seated and served before we were! Our meal, when it came, was perfectly reasonable, but they forgot our starters and our wine......and looking around the room, it was no more than one quarter full. Someone needs to go on a management course, I feel!

Still, it was warm, comfortable and convenient, plus lots of people we knew were also staying there, so it was convivial as well.

Friday - better weather after overnight rain! Lots and lots of punters, saw loads of friends.

A feeding frenzy...

Feeding frenzy

Our stall is just beyond this. This is F's end!


I rather liked the knitted underwear...

Knitted underwear

More colour

Colourful yarn

And this year, there seemed to be a lot more colour, which can't be bad.

There were quieter moments and areas, where sometimes friends were to be found.......

(no subject)

This year for the first time, the DSM and I did two one hour teaching sessions. We had been allocated one of the auction rings, but on inspection, it was very definitely not suitable, so we ended up in the corridor outside, which worked surprisingly well.

So here he is, in full flow....

DSM teaching

We started each session by asking if there were any folk who had never spun at all. Both times, more than half raised their hands, which made for quite some challenge. in one hour, we got them all to have spun an amount of yarn, and for most of them to have plied it with the Andean method. I feel pretty dam' proud of that!

One around ten year old in each session, both of whom bought spindles later, and a number of younger women.

One of whom came twice, because she had been anxious that her son wouldn't sleep through, so she booked on both days, enjoyed the first so much that she came again. And here is the slumbering infant (he was a cutie!)

A future student?

Day two was, I felt, rather quieter, and we didn't do nearly as much trade. Over all, we did well, sold lots of spindles, so I am not complaining! But the DSM in particular got very tired - he had had a busy time at work earlier in the week, too. He simply isn't used to being human, that's the truth of it. But he is fine now.

I have more photos from our trip back on Sunday, but I'll do another post for that, this is big enough already. I'm sorry it's all over for another year, I love Woolfest. Still now we have Summer School coming up fast - yikes!

More later.......