Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Where does all the time go?

A Bank Holiday weekend, gone in a flash. Saturday, we had a few errands to run, and I was offered lunch in town - we have a superabundance of really nice cafes. Never known to refuse! Plus, slightly to my amazement, the DSM lived up to his name and did not have an instant nervous breakdown whilst I allowed myself to play in the shops I rarely go in to because of the danger. of spending money. Which I duly did. Viz: purple shoes from Ruby Shoesday, a silver and turquoise ring from Elements and a few very pricey flowers from Willow Garden. Gifts to myself because I am worth it (I can get away with that occasionally.....)

Sunday, my sister came over and we trolled off to York, via a pub for a sandwich and a shandy outside in the garden, despite the weather not being quite as the forecasters had predicted; not raining, but slightly chilly rather than sunny and warm. Ah, well. Spent the afternoon with mama. An afternoon is too long - for her as much as us. I think we do need to make it mornings in future. The noted improvement was, we all felt, being maintained.

Then, Monday, ditto with the weather, so rater than idling and basking, we did some tidying up around and about, weeded, swept, watered, etc. It all looks a lot better. We didn't touch the garden proper. We both of us feel that it has got beyond us without some assistance, and we have a number to ring, so as soon as himself feels up to it, we shall go ahead.

And then this morning, I actually managed to get back to the Tuesday morning book group, and had a lovely time despite not having read the book. OH do chai now, too. Just gets better and better!

So, fibre stuff. Has gone on.

Have a dekko at these - cool, or what? My spindle spinning, the DSM's knitting. I was going to do them myself (honestly) but ran out of time before SS, so he volunteered, and finished them this weekend. All shetland tops, nice spinning though I says it myself. Knitting even nicer, though!

fairisle mitts

Then there is this:

embryo shawl2

It has grown. Although I have unknitted more rows than the total here shown achieved. Really and truly. And this is supposed to be FUN!?! You cannot be serious? I could perhaps eat live slugs, or sit in a room for 48 hours whilst someone runs fingernails over blackboards, or watch reruns of Benny Hill Shows. Those get closer to FUN than this. Huh.

I might yet still give up. I need rescuing again when the DSM gets home. I am making a tiny bit of progress. I have nearly learned the pattern sequence (one row, three elements, very, very simple.) If I can just get the changeover in the increase fixed, I will carry on. Otherwise, I shall drown the bloody thing in the deepest part of the frogpond.

I am making the attempt because: I wanted to try something a bit more challenging; every other person in the entire world says "ooh, it's easy" and I don't like being beat when I know I am no more stupid than the next. But there is a limit out there somewhere.

If discalculia is the number equivalent of dyslexia, what is the knitting equivalent, because I almost certainly have it.

Another excitement, to change the subject - a largish parcel from Interweave with books from the hurt book sale. I must go perusing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


embryo scarf

Hush! Not a word! Not one. It might take flight, implode, anything.

See how little distance I have travelled. Believe me - I really mean this - I have frogged and tinked at least as many rows as I have achieved. What is more, I am nearly at the end of the charted bit, by which time the intrepid knitter is meant to know what s/he should be doing. And I don't.

Watch this space. Very quietly and cautiously.

My lovely hat. I should have said - it is the second one on the page, but you might have guessed that, it is the one with cats on. It is bringing me luck. The weather having been almost cold enough to wear it straight away, we now have something approaching summer. And forecast to last over the holiday weekend. I foresee lots of knitting on the garden, hurrah!

A friend has lent me a cable that fits my camera. So I have uploaded a few photos from the Cornwall trip that I particularly like.

Rock surfaces from my favourite beach, for instance.



And these pretty things. There were more at the other end of the bypass, different colours with butterflies on, but I never got a chance to get a good shot of those, pity.


Then, there is this one.


Not such a brilliant shot, but there are things I like about it. the colours of the sea and sky, for instance, which were the intense blues shown. And even more, the gulls floatin easily above everything. this is the shore immediately opposite the Tate in St Ives, and on the very fine day we were there, the beach like all of them, was jam packed. But curiously, so too was the Gallery.

And - I have just in the last few minutes had my invitation to Ravelry. (I think they must have just left beta and opened the floodgates....) Haven't had time to explore yet and I;m not sure how much use it will be to me, but hey, all the world and then some are busy playing and who am I not to give it a go. One thing is sure, I'm NOT going to even attempt to enumerate my stash(es). Life is way too short.

OK, check, upload and back outside to knit. Or frog.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Lost, found, upside down

And that is just me........

There was, whilst we were teaching at Falmouth, the spindle of unknown origin. Not only beautifully made, exquisitely pretty but highly functional. And I had no clue who the maker was.

Yesterday, whilst searching for something else, the label turned up. Not that I am all that much wiser, as a googlehunt has only brought up vendors dealing with the makers' other lines of knitting needles and crochet hooks, but at least I do now have a name - Asciano. I have had the helpful suggestion of contacting one of the vendors of these in my quest for more information, which I shall at some point do. Not to order any more spindles, you understand. At least, not until my two newly ordered Spindlewoods arrive. And the fibre from elsewhere. Ahem.

I am a hopeless case. It is stress-related, of course. Yeah, right.

Also lost. The USB cable for my Samsung camera. That is what we were looking for yesterday, involving finishing the unpacking from Cornwall and thus not getting to veg in front of a dvd and a wood fire. Yes, that is right. We lit the fire. In August. The rain was persisting it down and it was decidedly chilly in the house (thick stone walls will do that.) Anyway, nowhere to be found, and the DSM even phoned the cottage people. So I hit eBay, and found some for sale from Hong Kong for silly prices, so have ordered one. There will be photos again soon.

One of the neat conceits from Harry Potter that I particularly like is the one where the subjects of paintings can move between their portraits around the wizarding world. I think parallels can be drawn with quite a few aspects of the fibre world, but here is one in lieu of my own photo.

I went to coven last Thursday, and Freyalynn was displaying all the gorgeous (and I do mean gorgeous) hats she has been knitting. There was one I liked very much, and the foolish young woman made the mistake of offering it to me. Was I likely to say no? Of course not! So, here it is. Some nice eye candy, eh?

Meanwhile, I have been heeding the wise words of my commentators, and prioritising. I sadly can't manage spinning and reading at the same time - I have tried, and failed miserably. I do make much use of audio books, and wouldn't be without them and podcasts both, but I was practically born a reader, became a librarian for a part of my life and simply cannot manage without real reading. Anyway, I have finished the Kostova, which I do think was worth the effort, got halfway through the slim volume on Paganism, read another book that had to go back to the Mobile Library this morning whose title I forget perhaps because I found it very traumatic (for personal reasons) as well as excellent. Shortlisted for the Booker a few years ago, not that that helps.

And I have replyed the merino/tencel, plus having taken the Lendrum to Guild on Saturday I have also resurrected an alpaca top project which I am going to transfer to the Timbertops. This will also give me time to revive the twist somewhat as what I have already spun has been languishing on the bobbins for a loooooooong time.

And to finish with, a minor miracle. I phoned my mother this morning. She answered the call after only a couple of rings, saying "Hello" in a bright and cheerful voice, and proceeded to chatter about this and that. (Before getting too carried away, I have to say that she did revert to usual topics after a while, but still cheerfully!) Now, several weeks ago, she had told me that the doctor had prescribed an SSRI for her, this following the DSM having a very long and heavy talk "at" her. Well, bless him and the doc. They are obviously working a treat, and I am inordinately pleased for both of us.

Sometimes Big Pharma does get it right.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

What to do?

The eternal dilemma.

I came back from Cornwall with a mental list of things to get going with, and although I feel as if I have spent all my time sitting staring at the wall (and in truth have spent some) I have actually succeeded to some extent.

I have a hat finished - but as it is intended for the Sheep Thrill hat swap, I am not going to put a photo up.

I have dug some yarn out of the stash for a larger project - maybe a shrug - but on inspection it is badly underplied, so I need to bang it through the wheel again.

I have set down the bare-bones outline of a new course that the DSM and I could team teach.

I have reacquainted myself with both the Schacht and the Timbertops, and stalled spinning projects are now live again.

But the real dilemma - and how lucky am I? - is the growing mountain of fascinating books I have to read.

The DSM gave me the new David Crystal "By hook or by crook", and exploration of the English language, a subject I have been passionate about for most of my life. Before we went away, I had bought slim volumes dealing with Islam, Buddhism and Paganism because I want to argue from a position of some knowledge. And I had ordered a shipment from Amazon - the new Barbara Kingsolver on how she and her family lived sustainably for a year, and a tutorial on ATCs which I have already browsed through and it is great.

But the coup de grace came with the postman this morning. I had some money given me for my birthday, and after a lot of soul searching, I ordered Dominique Cardon's "Natural Dyes". Soul searching because in some ways I have been moving away from natural dyes (so why did I by Jenny Dean's new book at Summer School, then, eh?) and because of the price. I have never, ever before spent over £60 on one book. But am I glad I did - it looks wonderful, jam-packed with information and fabulous illustrations.

I also have a stack of novels and Judith McKenzie McCuin's book on spinning, which also looks well worth a lengthy perusal.

So, there is the dilemma. Do I install myself in my favourite armchair, stirring only to renew supplies of coffee or tisanes, and read and read and read? Or do I keep up the momentum on the spinning &etc? Or even - continue with the ironing, and other chores?

OK, so let us strike out that last option. That still leaves a decision to be made. If only I were in a position to put my running away plan in to operation - but himself isn't quite up to it yet. (I have found the perfect cottage on the internet, but the cost is very high, so he needs to be particularly stable to cope.....)

Mmmm. First, I need to go shopping, then I need to make a cake (coven tonight), then....I'll think about it.

Monday, August 13, 2007


No, I hadn't got lost! After that last post from Falmouth, we never found the time to post any more photos to Flickr, and frankly, I ran out of energy. Then, when we left the college to go to our rented cottage, the only internet access I had was a very faint signal from an unencrypted wireless network right up the top of the garden. It was so slow that I decided that the game was very definitely not worth the candle, and that this could well wait until I was home and somewhat recovered.

Which I suppose I am.

So, here is the final word on Summer School 2007. Loved every minute of it. I was very pleased at how the class went, enjoyed enormously the company of the participants (oh, well, if I am being honest, there was one who was just a tad difficult, but quite sweet with it, so not too horrendous) Everyone worked and laughed hard and produced some great workbooks and little objets. I think that we all learned a lot.

I was ever so slightly miffed by a couple of things - one incident reported to me by an indignant student who had overheard two people from another class walking on past our classroom door saying blatantly that they didn't need - want - to go in there, it was only spindles. Silly, ignorant people, that's what I say. The other was on the last afternoon when everyone mills round seeing what has been going on all week, and one of the well known and extremely talented weavers came in. In a rather patronising tone, she asked "Where are all the garments, then?" and I took great delight in telling her that there was one. check out all the photos here to see what I mean!

I'm not going to add any photos actually in the blog this time, there are too many. there will be more to come later, an' all. I took several of work from other classes, and of the Certificate of Achievement displays. And of course, there are the obligatory shots of Hemmick from the following week, but more of that later.

Summer School was not what I had expected, and not really like what I had been told about it. Of course, people's perceptions differ, but I think there may have been a couple of factors influencing this. One being the superb organisation by the Convener, Sue Dwyer, who had put huge amounts of effort over a long period into the job and in my opinion succeeded brilliantly. It will be a very hard act to follow. The other may have been that there was a bigger age range than I had been lead to believe was the case, and over one third of the attendees were first timers (including some of the tutors, of course!)
Oops, that's three factors. Sorry.

The campus is very new, and rather delightful. Excellent student accommodation, attractive layout, and good workrooms, studios, etc. Even the food was not half bad, better than I had expected, and the students working there for the summer were great kids, seemingly not at all fazed by the influx of eccentrics. I kept on having fantasies of applying for a course and going to live there for three years, but perhaps that isn't a feasible option. Ah, well.

I somehow feel that this is a rather inadequate synopsis of what I have been up to. Ask questions? I will put up the later photos, and rabbit on about stage two, the "holidiy" in a subsequent post.

But first, I still need to catch up on....what? Sleep? Myself? Work? All of the above?


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer School continued

Well, there is no denying that this is hard work! But it is most tremendous fun, and our twenty four students are making giant strides - and I think having fun in the process!

We have arrived at the end of the high whorl spindling section of the course - tomorrow we move on to akha spindles and the dreaded cotton. The atmosphere may change then, I suppose......On Friday we are doing supported spindles, and we have been told that various folk are looking forward to that, even with cotton. Fingers crossed!

The campus at Falmouth is really nice, even if there is a tremendous hike up to the refectory and teaching areas. Much easier on the way back downhill, but in either case it is great to stretch the aching muscles a bit and breathe in some near sea air. I shall get my fill of that next week, hopefully. The food isn't half bad, either, considering. No-one would expect haute cuisine in the circumstances, but the meals are imaginative and really quite tasty. It helps, when working hard!

I have a raft of photographs. Let's see.....


The tutors facing the hungry crowd!


The accomodation blocks - very nice!

visitor - Roderick Owen

Roderick Owen dropping in from next door to see what we were doing.

Andean plying thing

Using the Andean plying tool.

navajo plying

A co-operative effort to navajo ply on a spindle.

spindle spun shawl

A shawl from spindle spun yarn. Not quite sure why this person is in our class, but she seems to be enjoying herself........

I will try to do another post before the end of the week. For now, a cuppa calls.