Sunday, September 30, 2007

Beads, Masham and.......

Finally, I arrive at Blogger with photos to include. I have spent a long frustrating time, first struggling with Corel which was not in a cooperative mood, and then Flickr, which didn't want to upload nicely for me. Grrr. Still and all, I have if nothing else learned perseverance over my lifetime.....

Didn't go to Coven on Thursday after all, knackered, basically. Shame. But I did get to York on Friday, and had a lovely day, really. Three hours beading with friends was very soothing, even if the end result wasn't quite as I would have wished.

blue necklace

Needs more oomph and pizazz for moi. Too pretty pretty. Apparently, this pattern can look good done with cubes, and I have some fairly in your face ones, so......

Anyway, I decided going in on the train that I ought to go see the mater afterwards, so M dropped me off at the end of the road and the DSM picked me up on the way down from the by-pass. He was late, so I had the strange experience of sitting in the entrance lobby whilst the mater had her supper, knitting the LL sock (v. nearly done!) and watching a constant trickle of elderly ladies in wheelchairs being transported by carers seemingly at random. And in total silence. Very definitely food for thought.

So, Saturday to Masham, sadly sans sheep. We did enjoy our day. Pottered around, bumped in to various folk, as ever, and again as ever, this is always nice. But golly, was it quiet. Visitor numbers way down, and stall-holders, too. The organisers had to make the decision they did when they did, and sterling work had been done to fill some of the pens with "sheep". All kudos to them. But there was an edge of sadness about it all, and a considerable edge of bitterness. Viz:


I have other photos of "entries" on Flickr, just click on the photo above to go see.

We were both very tired, for whatever reason, so left quite early. But not before - and here comes the first big confession - going and picking up this:

little gem

I know, I know. I don't need it. I love the Lendrum, shall certainly not get rid of it. But I realised a little while back that I was fed up with what I consider its slightly awkward mantling and dismantling, not to mention carting around. So. Indulgence time.

Ahem. There is, however more to come. Watch this space.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Home and Away

So, there is this person who has been complaining about how boring her recently completed knitting project was, and what does she do? Casts on the fingerless mitts in garter stitch from "One Skein", that's what.

There is a logic. I have some red yarn spun from a Lambspun roving that is a lovely cheerful bright red, just perfect for locating people sunk deep in to snow drifts, or several yards away down a blizzard swept deck. But there is not enough of it to make a complete and pukka pair of mittens. The mitts are quick, quick, quick. If I am not too ashamed to drag them out at Coven this evening, they will be done by tomorrow.

garter fingerless

I am alternating with doing interminable rows on the lace shawl and trying very hard to finish the Lorna's Laces socks. That yarn is pretty but very fine, they are taking forever.

Tomorrow, I am off to York for a beady afternoon with friends. It is supposed to be a class, but really, we simply choose one of the tutor's designs and do it. There is precious little learning involved, but the company is good, and it does get me beading. I'm not making the time to do it otherwise, which is a shame. Given that I like doing it, and have a not insignificant stash of beads......

Then the DSM comes over from Preston and we will stay the night, going on to Masham on Saturday. Even without animals again, that is as always something to relish. I'll try to take lots of photos Anyway, the socks go with me for the outing and hopefully will make some progress.

And.....when I am back, I will have confessions to display (can you display confessions?) Total indulgence, extravagance, whatever.

Now. This is the view at the moment from our bedroom window.

elder bush

When we bought this house nearly nineteen years ago, we very quickly fell into the habit of breakfast in bed because this room gets the most light - sunlight - and had a view. In the years since, an elder tree has grown up as have some other trees, and obscured the outlook pretty much in summer. But there are compensations. Elder is a bird magnet, and we have a constant wildlife programme playing out there. This morning, we had robins, chaffinches, great tits, blue tits and best of all, a black cap - these are quite secretive, and although we hear them, we rarely actually see them. There was also a greater spotted woodpecker on the telegraph pole just out of shot. On other days, we have had wrens, coal tits, wood pigeons, blackbirds and even the occasional bullfinch, whilst the pole has hosted tree creepers. Sometimes goldfinches and on the very, very odd time, goldcrests. It is somewhat like being in the canopy with them, and we feel it as a real privilege.

And finally. It has started. Yesterday morning, I made my breakfast and took it upstairs as usual. Ate a bite of toast. Went to take a swig of tea. And found that I had brought the milk jug upstairs.

And yes, my tea was in the fridge.

Ah, well.......

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

As I promised

A finished object. The "Nomad" hat and scarf from Interweave Knits, done in a soft-spun relatively chunky camel and silk blend, used double. That gave me about the right gauge, and a lovely thick fabric that will be so warm that I will probably only ever use it whilst we are on holiday this year, and then never again.

Although having said that, I do have memories deeply engraved of visiting Blakeney Quay one Christmas, and the wind was so sharp and bitter that we only lasted out there for but ten I can dig it out of storage for any winter holiday in years to come.

Taking a photograph of yourself wearing something on the head is quite tricky, hence the expression denoting intense concentration.


There I am - with more than a passing resemblance to my grandmother in this one!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Coming down in stair-rods - again

In other words, yet more rain. Wonderful.

A nice day today. The DSM had a hospital appointment around 9.30 this morning, so we had to be moving promptly - by which I mean I did as he always is. Just a routine thing, but all is well. They are happy still to wait on him feeling able to go ahead with another cardioversion, which he will do just in case it sticks this time. Because then he could have the exercise stress test which would give him his parameters for what he can do. Although, the bugger did ask about running again, and they have told him that he can if he wants to! Starting off very gently, increasing only slowly, yada yada. He knows what my opinion is, and I know that if I said "don't" he wouldn't. But he knows that I won't do around and around we go. Blergh.

Saturday was a family day. We went to York to see mama, who was on very good form, yay for modern pharmacology. Then in the evening, we went to a local restaurant for my niece's birthday gathering. A disparate bunch. A, my sister, her ex, A's father, but also the father of M, A's half-sister (well, and my nephew's too, they are around the same age, go figure) M's partner and their one child each (all three delightful), M2, A's partner, his parents, who either don't reckon me or don't know what to make of me, and C, A's best friend.

The restaurant, which used to be great, no longer is, but the company and the talk were well worth the time.

C, like A, is an artist. A beautiful girl, talented and easy to talk to. And like so many young women, totally lacking in confidence. She drew a picture of one of the kids, who reciprocated - I heard C saying to her "Oh, make me look really really skinny." She wasn't joking. Mind you, what she was relating about her parents explained a lot. Makes me wild when I hear of parents who just simply don't appreciate what gems they have just because their kids don't fit into predetermined (by aforementioned parents) little boxes.....but I digress.

C was asking me what I did with wool. She has done a number of installations using yarn to define spaces that relate to how women are forced to ...I want to say conform, but that isn't quite right...interact with social and built environments? Very interesting anyway, and very cool that young women still get this. The only sad note is that apparently, she uses acrylic yarn! I need to get together with her again and suggest a collaboration with me spinning for her, maybe.

do I envy these young women? I envy the opportunities that they have now that were not there for me, but on balance, no. And hey, I can always take Grandma Moses - or May Wesley - as a role model.

I should be the end of this evening have an FO. The hat/scarf is nearly finished. It is going to be toasty warm. I can't decide whether to leave it its natural colour, or to dye it. I have some red yarn I can whip up a pair of mittens from, so it might be cool dyed red - or would the underlying camel make it look grungy? I might have a strand or two to test, hopefully.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Just an ordinary post

If the upside of blogging is to focus one, to keep up the effort to finish certain - most - projects; or if abandoning something to clearly understand why; or to admit one's frailty at just not getting around to something.

Or to construct ungrammatical sentences.

Then the downside is that if there occurs just an ordinary week, then it follows that there can only be an ordinary post.

No dramas, witticisms, finished objects or insightful......insights. And yet somehow, Ms Blogger doesn't want to leave that dread thing empty air Hopefully, this does not mean that Ms Blogger is suffering from the equally dread "I blog, therefore I am" syndrome.

It is most strange. I am sitting here, and I can identify a feeling of "if I have nothing to blog about, I haven't actually achieved anything in the last few days. Thankfully, this is of course, complete rot. Tommy-rot, indeed. (At this juncture, Ms Blogger is forcibly restraining herself from rushing off to google the origins of that somewhat archaic phrase, so simply ignore the sounds of a muffled struggle.....)

The highlight of my week has been the purchase of a new hot water bottle, with a fleecy cover with sheep printed on it. If that were true, what a sad creature I would be.

No, the highlight of my week has been the arrival of a lovely parcel of fibre from Abby Franquemont (I won't use the current slang, don't want to attract the spammers.) Enough to say, it is absoeffinglutely gorgeous and I can't wait to get spinning it.

But actually, that isn't the highlight of my week either, although that would not be quite so sad.

Could it be spending an afternoon with a keen spinner, who really wanted a lesson but as I wasn't quite sure what she was after, I wouldn't do that until digging a bit deeper, so we had - or at least, I did, a good chat. Now she has identified some needs, I am planning a proper session which will be good, but simply spending time with fellow knitters and spinners is always worthwhile whatever.

Nope. That was good, but still not the highlight.

Coven last night? Magrat brought lovely goodies, and I did quite a few rows on the stalled shawl, but although related, still not there yet.

Lunch out with a friend today? Nope.

No, mulling it over, I realised that the "highlight" is that I have put in some solid work on all the projects, knitting and spinning. There is visible progress all round. Add to that an appropriate amount of domestic activity (by which I mean just sufficient to keep the old domicile looking not filthy, and the washing and ironing up to date and decent healthy meals all round) then there is to be found a quiet satisfaction, an unusual state, an d a highlight all by itself.

Sometimes being ordinary is definitely the best.

Ra - I belong to Bradford Guild (and the OLG) Are you coming to visit ?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Three days for the price of one

Friday was the regular class at AH. My friend the Silver Surfer has documented it already, plus some photos, so I won't go on too much about it. It was a good day, not only because of the dyeing, but because there were two new spinners who both did really well - one of them had been working on her own for a couple of weeks, but was making great progress. The other had never touched fibre before, and by the end of the day had learned to spindle spin and wheel spin and had plyed her first yarn.

I had an interesting thought. She had the usual trouble that so many beginners have to work through, not letting go of the yarn so that it winds on to the bobbin. Now, I always use white tops for teaching and it suddenly occurred to me that if I used a multicoloured preparation with short lengths of colour, a newbie might be able to watch the changes and thus learn more quickly to keep it moving. I'll get some organised for next time, just in case we have more beginners.

Anyhow, a photo or two.


And the teacher (on the right)......


(I didn't take these, the SS did - thanks!)

Yesterday was Guild, with Freyalyn running a spinning clinic and everyone chatting and spinning as well. I really hadn't intended to, but I succumbed to a couple of bags of a very pretty orange and green mix that will, I hope, go with some orange/brown preps I am already working on, destined for a shrug.

So, today I started spinning it, of course, even though I am already working on the other aforementioned plus some plain brown to eke it all out.

Freyalynns Demeter

I want it rather softer than I sometimes do, so I am using an extended draw with a rapid wind-on, which has the added advantage that it spins up quicker! Not that spinning it is not pleasant, it is very nice to work with. But I want this as a knitting project for when we go on holiday.

Spinning Demeter

And for what it is worth, this is not a good photo! - the yellow/brown.


Now - and I have been called on it (g) - I said I would, and I have!

Believe it or not as you choose, but this is going to be very hard for me to do. You have to understand that I have no confidence in whatever artistic abilities I may or may not have. I think this is one reason that I am drawn to ATCs, they are so tiny and hopefully non-threatening. Well, maybe.

So here we have my very first efforts. Pretty dire, though I says it myself. But I have learned things, and that, in a sense, is what it is all about (sorry). I have learned that friendly plastic is not totally so. As it cools, it curls. I have learned that attempting to suggest seagulls in flight with full-strength white acrylic paint freehand is probably not a good idea. I have learned that this is harder than even I had though that it might be, but actually is rather fun. I have learned that the card stock that I am using is perhaps rather flimsy, but it will have to do (note to self - try using it double?)

first attempts

I have also learned that blogging really does keep you up to the mark. Having gone public with it, I had/have to do it - well, as long as I am liking doing it, anyway. Masochism can only last so long, in my book.

Ok, that'll do. I'm off to check on things Ravelous. Golly, what a great and awful invention Ravelry is. Whoever first described it as a "time suck" did assuredly know whereof they spoke.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Well, buggrit.

The tutor concerned rang me last night to say that today's course on ATCs had been cancelled.

I felt miffed. The DSM (and me) both decided that I should take the day to explore the dang things anyway, which definitely seemed like a plan. But it didn't work out like that. As I should have known, being me.

I footled around all day, looking at the book, at my supplies, at designs - spent ages pulling up photographs and cropping and tweaking, hunting for images on the net. Oh, I am absolutely ace at displacement activity!

By the time the DSM got home, I was feeling pissed off and distinctly low. And all my own fault, too.

He did a sensible thing, and dragged me out for a walk. The usual Rose Cottage round plus a big chunk of our up-the-river neighbours' land, up to the weir. Although not sunny, it was warm and lovely and I came back feeling much more positive.

If I had done the class, I would have had several hours to experiment with other people encouraging me - I am way to stern a critic, and was judging myself before I had ever set anything down, which is just damn stupid. So I have a cunning plan.......

Assuming we are not doing anything else, I am going to decree Sunday "do it or else" day and just buckle down to it. I mean it. Or, if not, Monday.

No more excuses, right?

I did knit a bit..........

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

In the midnight hour....

I am awake, dammit. When I shouldn't be and don't really want to be. but I have learned not to fight it and to get up and do something rather than waste the time. It can't be too noisy, or it disturbs the snoring males of the household, so praise be for iPods and computers and such. Also, of course, knitting needles and spinning wheels.......

I have been knitting.


Being me and disorganised, I forgot to include a coin for reference, but it should be pretty apparent that the shawl has grown. It will also be apparent that the colours are doing slightly odd things, but do you know, I couldn't care less. It still looks pretty.

I have learnt the pattern! This may not seem such an achievement to some, but believe you me, it is huge! When I say I have learnt it, yes, I have, but I still make mistakes. My even greater achievement is that I have learnt to fudge as well!!!

I am going to simply carry on knitting until I run out of yarn, which won't be for a while. There is no fringe or other sort of edging on this shawl. When I am done - I have found another simple one to try, which does have a knitted on edging, so I will facing an additional challenge. Need to spin some yarn for that, though. Good grief.

I have also today cast on for another project, the Nomad hat/scarf from the current (Fall 2007) IK. This is in some camel and silk that I spun some time ago, and had been eyeing up for a hat. this goes one better, and needs to be completed for the Norway jaunt which, whilst not yet booked, is approaching that point.

camel hat

I've got a little bit further than shown, but not much. Very simple, once you have cast on, so shouldn't present any problems.

I spent some time this afternoon preparing for Friday's class, mainly mixing up dye stock solutions. I hadn't realised how low my supplies of Gaywool had got. Fortunately, Masham is not far off, and P&M will of course be there, so I can replenish. We are doing direct application (again), but I am aiming for more saturated colours and had always intended to encourage some mixing, now reinforced by only taking the limited range. I hadn't done anything with dyes for ages, and really enjoyed myself. I'll aim to do something of mine as a demo at least - probably no time to do much more as I think I have a couple of beginners. at least, unrecognised names, although those are not always such, of course.

I have three straight days out, I'm doing the class on ATCs on Thursday, which I am very much looking forward to. I'll post results - probably, ahem. Then AH, then Guild.

I was going to include a gratuitous cat picture in this post, but it appears to have vanished. Shame if I have deleted it, it was a nice one. Ah, well. Could be that I am actually getting sleepy, and therefore incompetent.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Finally...or do I mean at last?

The exhibitions.

There were actually three of them - I had forgotten that I had inadvertently seen tapestry one by a friend of mine at Book Group. I love her tapestries, and these were fabulous. but I won't write it up, need to go back fro a proper look and some photos.

So. First one.

Embroiderers Guild. I had expected to really like it, and was left feeling kind of unsatisfied. Some lovely work, but little that gave rise to a tingle.

SV101094 (2)

This was fun, and to me at least, pretty original.

And this drew my attention:

SV101100 (3)

Not least because it reminded me of photos like this:


I've taken a few like this in my time, intending to use them as a design source one of these days. I'll have to hunt up my favourite, of building adjacent to the Temple in Salt Lake City, with that reflected in the mirrored exterior. But it is from the days before digital, so I need to track it down, scan it in

Probably, though, my favourite piece was this:

SV101091 (2)

I'm not quite sure why, but it really appealed to me. For whatever reason, I am often drawn to juxtapositions of natural wood or similar with thread. Maybe one day, I'll raid the woods and get going.

OK, so the other exhibition was more, I thought, of an unknown quantity, and I didn't expect to like it necessarily. In the event, I thought it was great, and felt much excitement from some of the exhibits, a lot of which were very humorous and witty.

It was an exhibition in miniature, as in this - note the finger for scale.


To those of raised in the era when the height of home decor chic was the flight of ceramic ducks on the wall - or in the case of my mother, seagulls as being less common than ducks - this definitely struck a chord!

The dyer in me liked this next, a small version of a much larger piece, apparently. Paprika, exposed to light to make random, natural art. I've got to try that!


But the reason for going in the first place was that my niece had a piece in the show. Now, remember the scale.....


Hilarious, and beautifully constructed.

The young gallery owner was on the premises during our visit and was obviously slightly bemused by the two near-geriatrics who had wandered in. She was quite charming, giving us lots of interesting information about various pieces, but eventually just had to ask how we had found our way in there!

Ah, well, it had to happen one day.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

In the interim, serendipity and not a negligable amount of nostalgia

We arrived at Leeds station to find, a little way down the platform, this:

SV101109 (2)

One of those little gifts from the universe, no?

I would have liked more shots, but after taking just the one, it moved off with those never-forgotten sounds and smells, and, even greater joy, it wasn't just the engine, but there was real rolling stock, too. As I stood there with a very goofy grin on my face, another woman of a certain age gave me a beaming smile "Isn't it wonderful" she said. "A real train!"

If the noise of the head of steam hadn't been as loud as it was, I would have told her that for several years during my senior school career, I had travelled daily on one exactly like it. Eventually, steam engine gave way to diesel engine and then at the very end to a diesel unit, but I have forever in my memory - whilst I have memory at all - the magic of steam.

Cue for nostalgic verse.

Edward Thomas

Yes. I remember Adlestrop
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed.

Some one cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop — only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and around him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

And then, of course, there is always this from Flanders and Swann of blessed memory:

Miller's Dale for Tideswell ...
Kirby Muxloe ...
Mow Cop and Scholar Green ...

No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Mortehoe
On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road.
No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street.
We won't be meeting again
On the Slow Train.

I'll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw.
At Long Stanton I'll stand well clear of the doors no more.
No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no
Down From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town.
I won't be going again
On the Slow Train.

On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
The grass grows high
At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside And Trouble House Halt.

The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
No one departs, no one arrives
From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives.
They've all passed out of our lives
On the Slow Train, on the Slow Train.

Cockermouth for Buttermere ... on the Slow Train, Armley Moor Arram ... Pye Hill and Somercotes ... on the Slow Train,
Windmill End.

That's what a rainy September afternoon will do to you.........

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Trying to catch up *again*

It does seem to have been one of those weeks. Wednesday was spent with a friend lunching and going to an exhibition. Thursday, I had to go to the dentist, and do a load of food shopping. Friday...not sure, lots of odds and sods. In between, knitting and spinning.

Today - now, today was interesting.........

I did, in fact, go to another exhibition, but I will deal with both of them in another post - for one thing, haven't had time to sort out photos yet. And it was good, very. But that isn't what I was burbling about.

Over the last few months, I have frequently said to the DSM - "when things get back to normal, and I don't mean the old normal, I mean a new, improved normal..." It does finally seem to be the case that this long-awaited state of affairs might just be coming to pass - huzzah! For one thing, himself is back in work for four days a week and working at home on the fifth. And enjoying it.

But there are signs, at least at the moment, of a new, improved normal, too. For the second Saturday in a row, We Went Shopping. Now, I really am not one of those women whose idea of the most fun is to spend all day at the Shopping Centre. But just occasionally, I like to venture as far as one of the regional metropoli (??) for some necessities, and a modicum of fun. Today, we went to Leeds, on the train, knitting (both of us) the entire way, which raised a few eyebrows, I can tell you. One poor early teen nearly swallowed her iPod, and just as nearly broke a rib belonging to her unfortunate friend because she kept poking her so hard.

Now, we had gift tokens to spend, and there was a special promotion on at Borders, so books and cds were on the list. So, that was the fun. But the really interesting thing - he truly is feeling a lot better if this could happen - The DSM bought clothes. Lots of clothes, only one small part of which were socks. Amazing.

We had a good time, the weather was ideal for such an outing, sunny and warm without being boiling hot, and we had the sense to stop before we got knackered. Plus, we still have some voucher left, so we can do a Manchester run in a few weeks time, when we have both recovered from the current excess of City and shopping. So now we are talking about a trip to go birding, or to the coast, or maybe both. The possibilities are endless........

S that this isn't a photoless post, here is one I took last weekend that might have been plastered all over the Red Tops in other circumstances. In doing some watering of pots outside, lo, this appeared. If you happen to be a devotee of Mercury, bend the knee.

winged boot

What is it? A winged boot, of course! Isn't it obvious?

Then, just before leaving the exhibition on Wednesday, I noticed this arrangement of chairs, and it really appealed to my eye.

basket chairs

Quite like the Victorian floor tiles, as well.