Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dither, hither and yon

I'm still following the scattershot approach, I fear, but it is beginning to have more focus, more purpose.

We had a somewhat hectic weekend, what with Saturday involving three separate activities - visiting mama, shopping and having a meal with DB/SIL. Mama was fine; the shopping was highly successful - a new luggage combo for me, a wheeled suitcase with a wheeled carry-on that slots on top over the handle so both can be dragged along in one hand at the same time, and three new floor lamps for the sitting room, ridiculously cheap courtesy of Ikea; and the socialising and meal good.

Then Sunday, we had another meet-up of the HB knitters, in Tod this time at The Bear. Very nice, pleasant company, nice lunch and The Sun Was Shining.

The other thing we did on Sunday was put harnesses on the kits - which they were not too thrilled with - and open the door to the big outside world. To my amazement, they were not off and away, but were quite timid. A couple of times, cars came down the lane, and they shot like rockets back into the house, which was very clever of them but I had to follow on the end of the lead - quite a picture. We haven't been able to do it since, though, as the rain returned. Sigh. The house is growing moss. Sometimes I feel that I am, too.

Tuesday was the OH Book Group, which was wonderful. We had been reading - or rather, attempting to read John Updike's "Couples". Not one of us finished it, and we spent an enjoyable hour trashing it, before moving on into more important discourse on the phenomena of late middle age. Most satisfying!

And yesterday, we were all at Magrat's, ostensibly for NO and M to warp up a loom, and for me to supply them with beverages and spin. However, in the end, it turned into nothing more than a gabfest. And a trashing of another icon, one M Thatcher, who M reckons is her idol and the rest of us despise utterly. so conversation can get .....heated.

So - the scattershot approach to fibre work. The circles crochet shawl is turning in to a scarf. Insufficient yarn for a good size. But it will, I think, work as a scarf.

crochet circles

And spinning? White-faced Woodland four-ply nearly completed and looking good, plus some of the Babe being dragged out for sampling. The staple length is such that I can long or short draw, so I thought if I spin up a goodly quantity, we could take it with us in October for knitting all sorts of samples for next year.

And I continue with the Meadow Flowers (I never can be sure if that name is right) shawl. I really think I am in the final straight now.

Tomorrow, we jet off to Cornwall to visit MIL, goody. It is always a real pleasure to spend time with her, plus I get to see the sea. I don't care if it is raining, I'm paddling!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Tapestry 08

I finally got to see this today. At least, the Dean Clough and Bankfield elements, I believe there are more pieces at the Square Chapel.

This will perhaps seem over the top, but I honestly do think it was one of the most enjoyable (at many levels) exhibitions that I have seen in quite a while.

OK, let's edit that, the Klimt was, too. So, I am lucky.

Varied, imaginative, technically excellent work to stimulate and to inspire. Well, kind of. Seeing all the lusciousness made me want to rush home and find my tapestry loom, but at the same time I knew that I could never achieve anything like any of these. So, maybe, maybe not.

I did ask, and was allowed to take photographs, so I shall put one or two up here. But I did them without flash, and they are not necessarily all that brilliant. I hope they give a flavour. I would put up more, but I can't give attribution for everything just yet, so these will have to do.

First, two by Joan Baxter, who has to be one of my favourite tapestry artists. We are lucky enough to own one of the small pieces that she did for an exhibition at Meira Stockl's some years ago, which includes unwoven warp and laminated photographs, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to afford it!

Oh, phooey! I'm doing this via Firefox, and would you believe, either you can't easily move between websites or I am doing something wrong. So I will save this as a draft and at some point revert to using poor, despised AOL - which just possibly isn't so bad after all!!

I suspect that it having been 1 am at the time I wrote the above - I couldn't get off to sleep, which is getting to be rather too much of a habit recently - perhaps caused some of my difficulty. Anyhow, here I am, daylight hours, it isn't raining and I'm more awake than usual - so back to business.

by Joan Baxter

I don't know if the cleverness of this first Joan Baxter will show. It has the suggestion of the shape of a kilt about it. The upper section is tartan, but with woodland elements subtly blended in. The lower half is swirling water. And there is so much more to it, but it takes a while for it all to become apparent, and it certainly doesn't show in this photograph!

I had a google hunt to see if I could find it on line, with no success. but it is worth having a look at Joan's website for other wonderful images.

And this is the other tapestry, at the Bankfield, that I loved. I do wish I were rich!

by Joan Baxter

This next image is of two companion pieces by Hillu Liebelt.

by Hillu Liebelt

I loved these - cool and spare, but with an apparent texture from a distance of a close-cut cotton velvet.

My final choice is this by Shirley Ross.

by Shirley Ross

I was initially drawn to this because it reminded me of Arches State Park in Utah - the inspiration is actually Arizona, it turns out. Well, close....

I love how she has captured the character of the red rock, and the magical colours of the distances. I need to gt out my photograph album from that Utah trip (pre-digital days). I know there are some fabulous inspirations in there. Just waiting to be used.....sigh.

Sunday, August 17, 2008



Friday, the sun shone, it was warm, and dry.

I went out for a walk.

summer bank

summer river

Ruby liked it, too.

roo resting

She'm grown a bit!


Saturday was Guild, and our annual dyeing day organised by Freyalyn. I was idle, in that I didn't dye, but I did spin a lot. They had fun!

dye day

Two Ravellers here, and there were another three present, myself included. Ravelry really is taking over the world!

Anyway, fun was had.


And by those who didn't dye as well.


I have been following my usual pursuits, and have added another. I suddenly had an irresistible compulsion to crochet the singles from the batts I bought at Woolfest. As I have been drooling over a Norah Gaughan book, I decided to experiment with circles, to be joined together only where each touches the other (I am sure that there is a technical term for that, but have forgotten most of my geography, so.....) If it works, I'll report back.

I continue with my mindful cotton spinning, which is proving to be a most useful lesson in patience, peace and calm, just what it is supposed to be. The cotton doesn't draft easily, and I get a lot of help. When it goes well, I enjoy it and feel good. So, it works!

Other than that - we have finally a hotel booked in NYC, and a vehicle for the rest of the trip after that. Booking at the Met opens today, so that should get done soon, too. It's getting closer, and we are nearly organised.

O goody!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Three exhibitions and a birthday

Friday afternoon, we hied us over to Liverpool. We decided to be extravagant, and stay in an hotel actually on Albert Dock, so we could do exhibition number one and get a meal accompanied by a drink or three without having to use the car again. This plan worked a treat.

The first port of call was the Klimt exhibition at the Tate. We both of us loved it. There were some fabulous pieces of art there, but the whole thing was hugely enhanced by having the movement espoused by Klimt and a number of other associated artists, architects and so on set in context. So as much of the work related to homes and the people who commissioned/owned them, we were shown photographs, architectural models and drawings, furniture, artifacts including some truly fabulous silver "domestic" items, and one room set for each family. So you got this fascinating snapshot of lives and times, which made so much more sense of the whole thing. I've never seen an exhibition quite like it, and found it so enormously satisfying.

Although I remain completely overwhelmed by the fact that these people had the money and otherwise good fortune to be able to commission entire houses and almost lifestyles in that way. Except that they all had such good taste! I wonder if the Beckhams and Andres do as well, eh?

The hotel was definitely worth it, too, to be a bit more prosaic. Although, it too fed the aesthetic senses, being a conversion from the original warehouses on the dock and very sympathetically done.


I have never before felt inspired to photograph the ceiling of a hotel bedroom!

Albert Dock from hotel room window

And the view from the bedroom window, to be totally cliched.

We went this weekend because it was the only one that the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers National Exhibition was open, believe it or not. I had expected that it would have been absolutely heaving with visitors, but it wasn't. Maybe the truly atrocious weather had something to do with it.

I wouldn't say that the gallery was ideal for the purpose, but on the whole, everything was very nicely displayed. One or two exceptions, but that was probably inevitable. There was some super work, but I'm not going to include too many photos as I can't attribute properly. There was no catalogue as such, merely a list of the hanging numbers/makers names, and I really didn't feel like marking this up. There was a file with full details by the entrance, but it would have meant rushing back and forth to check every last thing, which simply did not feel like an option!

So, a flavour.


A detail of a rather nice woven wall hanging.


Another, irresistible, detail from an item that consisted of a gorgeous ship complete with cargo and crew, inspired by a poem. This should be Reepicheep, but wasn't........

Craven Guild entry

A collaborative entry, by Craven Guild. Terrific. Completely puts the lie to the origin of the camel thing!

The third exhibition was next door, in a church. The main draw was some magnificent ecclesiastical vestments, but also that you could get tea and cake there, not possible at the Gallery, even though you could smell it somewhere!

However, the Held in Trust proved to be much more fascinating than just that. Not being a Catholic, I did find one or two of the exhibits unlikely, shall we say, not to mention some of them being positively ghoulish. But the historical artifacts were great, and the vestments indeed sumptuous and wonderful.

The cake was good, too.

The rain continued to fall. So I didn't go on the hunt for lambananas that I had intended. Just managed to grab photos of three of them on the way back to the car park, in a lull from the downpour.


I've seen pigs in Cincinnati, apples in New York, and now lambananas in Liverpool. Wow, I have lived.

And the birthday? Mine, of course. The plan is to do nothing I don't wish to do, and to feel no guilt. Oh, and to eat pizza for supper.

I think that is quite a plan.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Another first

I spent the morning teaching spindle spinning to three people. Grandmother, mother, daughter. Now, that was a buzz, if you will.

All three delightful people, and set fair to be talented spinners. I had met two before, at one of our Woolfest sessions, so not quite beginners, but near enough for me to be thrilled with the progress that they made - all three of them in fact. We spent three hours at it, during which they spun and plied wool, and then were eager to try other fibres. They expressed interest in the wool with different staple lengths, and then fell on the silk I brought down to show them. I wouldn't expect spinners of little experience to cope happily with silk, but these three did! Grasped the principle of spinning from the fold in a trice; and listened when I said not to remove the centre-pull ball wound on to a nostepinne.

Ain't life grand?

I have been learning myself. I couldn't resist, having decided upon doing it, to begin the mindful spinning of cotton. And the Universe seems to have had quite a few lessons to teach me already. Firstly, even though you can legitimately call yourself an able spinner of cotton, you can still end up with a shower of little fragments around your feet and a frayed temper to boot. Take deep breaths and master the temper; progress comes from slow, reflective practice.

Master your temper too when small snowshoe cats hurl themselves on to your lap and lunge at your yarn and or fibre supply - more than once. Angry shouting does no-one any good; better to calmly but firmly remove the cat, cuddle it somewhat and place on the ground (and yes, I mean place not throw......) Kittens will be kittens, and the Universe loves them as well.

And do remember how much twist cotton needs, thus avoiding having to run a bobbinful through the wheel again when it starts drifting apart at a crucial point.

Book Group last night turned in to a conversation about knitting, and indeed spinning. Something very strange is going on, but I'm not complaining about it.

It's all very exciting. And definitely grand.

Monday, August 04, 2008


An amazing four years. By which I mean to refer not to the quality, you understand, but to the duration.

Although sometimes it may not seem like it, I still enjoy it. It still keeps me focused, even though that is not always a comfortable thing. (But good for me.)

Although other things can take the time I might have spent blogging, like teaching - and Ravelry.

Or indeed, both.

So I consider I celebrated the blogiversary more than adequately by meeting with a group of ten Ravellers in York to spend an hour or three spindle spinning. Well, we did. The DSM came too, as he is co-teacher if not a Raveller, or only so by proxy.

Such a nice day. Lovely people, all keen to be indoctrinated into the arcane art, plenty of enthusiasm, plenty of good food, super bookcases to take sneaky peeks at, and gorgeous cats to assist us in pretty much everything. Just what could be better than that? Absolutely nothing, I tell you.

York Ravellers spindling

A yarn sculpture

Can I has spindle?

There are a few others on Flickr, click on any photo here to access.

Whilst I may have needed two large mugs of coffee to get me going today, yesterday has energised me - there is so much going on in the fibre world at the moment that it is hard not to feel energy.

Mine is going to be fairly narrowly channelled for a while, though. I have pledged to spin mindfully for peace for the duration of the Olympics, in tribute and memory of Ruth Schooley who so untimely died recently. I'm going to spin cotton, something she was passionate about, and I love too. I can't link to this, as it is being done through Ravelry. but I can link to Joy's blog

Joy, Lena and Nyondo live the greater part of the year in a village in the Himalayas that is home to many Tibetan refugees (that's one hell of a precis; read the blog for the fuller story!) I met them, and Ruth, some years ago in San Francisco, so I know they are real and not some figment of the imagination of the internet. People can donate a very little money and know that it will be used to very best advantage. If they wish - no compulsion, from anyone! I'm just sayin', as a way of celebrating Ruth, and my bogiversary, in one swell foop.

Gad, the caffeine is getting to me, eh, what?

The other thing I want to be getting on with is spinning the yarns for knitting the samples for next summer's course. I thought it would make good travel knitting for when we head off for the States in just over eight weeks. (Me? Excited? Anticipatory? Moi? Noooooooo.......) And unless it is simply the caffeine, my head is starting to buzz over that - so many ideas, and only a week to fit them all in to. Aaaargh!

But I am not going to neglect the Meadow Flowers (hope I've got that right) shawl, which is really growing very nicely. I'd like to finish it in time for SOAR if I can. Not that it is such a great piece of work, but it does represent a considerable milestone for me.

Of course, I have to decide what colour to dye it.....