Sunday, November 29, 2009

Who'd a thunk?

When I was a gel, still at school and coming up to A-levels, my mother told me over and over* that I should be a teacher "It is such a good job for a woman, dear."

Now, that was quite sufficient to deter me even in those far off days, but in fact I knew very well that I was most definitely not suited to school teaching. I would be dreadful at it, would hate it and would therefore do irreparable damage to the poor unfortunate children who crossed my path, and indeed, to myself.

I'm still sure that I was right. But to my considerable amazement, a few years ago I found that I could in fact teach spinning. I enjoyed it, and did it pretty well. Totally different to school teaching, of course. It isn't a relentless day in day out conveyor belt of reluctant young people, but (nowadays) adults who have chosen to be in any particular class. Quite a different thing. I have worked with children, and even that does have its charms, when they are on a day out, doing something other than times tables, or whichever aspect of the curriculum is due at 10.45 am on the first Tuesday in June. So to speak.

Actually, slightly an aside, I did once teach a series of classes to one year group in a Junior school, on feltmaking, and that worked well for us all too - but again, it was not the norm for them, and very much more like playing than drudgery. But we did have fun. we are at the end of November, and just yesterday we taught our last workshop of 2009, the last of a very, very busy year. (You have to remember that the DSM still has a day job, and although he enjoys the workshops and does find them in many ways energising, they are hard work. He's due for a rest!)

It was a lovely day. Twelve newcomers to spindle spinning - well, two of them had done a bit before, but not a lot. So, all starting with the basics, but in the course of the day, they spun and plyed (Andean and with a nostepinne) and then had a play with a different sort of wool top, and had a look at other spindles and fibres. One exceptionally satisfying thing was that one person had struggled a lot in the morning, so much so that I had seriously feared that she was going to leave. By the end, she had not only mastered it, but had spun some highly creditable silk on one of my little spindles, and by what she was telling me, I am absolutely convinced that she was in fact an intuitive spinner who was going to go far.

When that happens, it is....fantastic.

A few photographs.

BRE workshop2

BRE workshop1

BRE workshop3

There is a little icing on the cake. My copy of the Journal came on Friday, wherein were the student reports from Summer School. The one for our class was really nice, and enabled us to feel that we are doing something right. Seemingly, our intentions when we devise and teach a class do transfer to those who take them, and it is such a pleasure to get that feedback.

Next year is so far scheduled to be much, much quieter. At the moment, we only have one workshop booked, although it would not be a surprise to have others materialise. Who knows? On sad thing, the format of the Woolfest teaching programme is changing, so there will not be beginners sessions there next year. Whilst it will make it less hectic for us, I enjoyed doing the classes, and do feel they fulfilled a need. Not to worry, though. Something else will develop - may already be so doing!

It's all good!

* That is neither the only thing my mother told me over and over, nor the only such I ignored.....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Come again another day.....

I'm happily feeling a great deal better - I wake up at a sensible hour feeling I have had a good night's sleep, and I don't now crash out at 9pm. I do tend to slump in the afternoons still, but that is just normality writ rather larger than normal, and is improving, so I can live with that. Nothing however, is being helped by the weather....but I have twined on about that so much, it is very old and very boring so I won't this time!

I'm having a good week. I finally met with the person about the textile history project - I can't say too much about it, because it is all still rather vague and as yet undefined if there is any role for me, although it looks as if there might be. Spindle spinning workshops, even. And just maybe something involving dyeing. Nothing will happen in a hurry, which is probably just as well. Very interesting, though.

Then yesterday was another book group, and very good gathering, too. Although it is slightly scary how many of us were/had been incapacitated, particularly those with broken and repaired hips and other bones!. But one very amusing moment when someone made a remark about their "promiscuous" youth, and half the room admitted likewise, whilst the other half looked shamefaced and admitted to hooking up with the first, the one, the only! Too funny (and no, I'm not saying.....)

Today is darker than ever, and I can admit to finding it really hard to motivate myself to doing anything. Still, I am fiddling with altering a new skirt, and rounding up spinning projects.

The Whitefaced Woodland on the wheel is done (I have more, but some is being spindle spun, and the rest can wait.)

 White faced woodland + new Forrester spindle

Part of the mountain waiting to be dyed, with the full spindle on top.

White faced woodland - spindle and wheel spun

And this is the spindle spun yarn lying on top of some wheel spun. I am very pleased with this - I managed to get pretty close to the same finished yarn from the wheel with the spindle spun. Slightly firmer twist, although I did try to moderate it! It doesn't matter - the spindle spun will be for different projects, it was just an exercise.

I am still deeply pondering just what sort of an afghan or blanket or throw or whatever I am going to make. I have been reading the latest edition of Selvedge (always a joy) and there is a photograph of, believe it or not, the most sumptuous blanket in crocheted granny squares. I am so tempted - to use something so derided and banal and to turn it in to a statement. H'mmm....too pretentious, maybe. I am also thinking along the lines of a panelled affair, or maybe even a spiral seen recently on Ravelry.

I really don't know. Watch this space in a few years time.

Meanwhile, still the same knitting projects on the go, but I have started the glorious yak and silk blend from A Verb For Keeping Warm bought at the SOAR market. Lovely, lovely stuff, only slightly tricky to spin because of the different characteristics of the two fibres. But extremely well blended, so not too bad. I have elected to go for smooth, even and fine, with an only marginally tedious very short forward draw, instead of a less regular thicker and puffier look with an extended draw. Because I see a lace scarf in its future. I can also see that the store is going to be a very dangerous place - good job it is so far away! ( they do mail order???.....)

Should manage Coven tomorrow - and Saturday, we have a spindle spinning workshop in Leeds. Of which more anon, I have no doubt.

Pretty much business as usual, now.......

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm back!


I might have got an eye open, but keeping it so was another matter entirely. I've been napping frequently, and turning in to a pumpkin by nine o'clock and going to sleep - no reading in bed, two minutes of ipod, crash.

I did manage to crawl out to a book group meeting on Tuesday because I felt I really had to make the effort, plus I desperately needed to talk to another human being. I chickened out of Coven on Thursday, couldn't face the thought of driving back in the rain and dark in a state of zombiedom.

But then finally comes Saturday, Guild and supper with DS/BIL after, and I survived! I was totally knackered by the time we got home, despite dozing all the way back from Leeds. But had a really nice day, it was so good to see friends and family again after two weeks plus of virtual incarceration. Today, I am feeling a little dopey (not one word....) but human. What a relief - it looks like the worst is over. (Just as well, we are teaching next Saturday.)

I have been mainly knitting, nothing too taxing. I even put "Birch" to one side in favour of a very plain vanilla project that I have been eyeing up for ages. A shrug cum vest, in K1P1 rib and a rather nice mock rib (K1P1 one row, with P1Sl1 on the return - very attractive, firm fabric.)

I have been attempting to finish off the whitefaced woodland, to free up the wheel for some of the SOAR market goodies, and then decided that I would use some of it for spindle spun samples - so at Guild yesterday I filled a new Forrester spindle, which was pretty satisfying. I haven't taken any photos of any of this, and will get around to it soon, but I really did think that it was high time I blogged again.

The other thing that has been exercising my mind is Cockermouth. This is just one of many websites - if you visit this one, scroll down to the photograph of the Market Place. Centre frame is a shop called "Banks", and just to the right of it, as you look at the image, is the shop that used to be the Sewing Shop that I ran with a friend. And as for Banks - an ironmongers, been there for many decades, and inside a rabbit warren of retail history that is going to be a major loss.

What is good to hear is all the Woolfest people being so supportive - we too will be back, although possibly not in the same place as I know it has been flooded out. But it is all we can do.

And so - it looks like I am nearly back to normal (which will mean housework and ironing, sadly - the place looks like a slum. The DSM has been fantastic whilst I have been hors de combat, shopping and cooking, keeping himself in shorts - but there is A Backlog. Time indeed to rejoin the human race.

And I'm getting my fibre mojo back somewhat, too, and some of the stuff that could be done at the computer is done, or in hand. I need to go stash diving for the Yorkshire fleece/rovings, which have unaccountably moved from where I put them safely before we went on holiday, and then I can combine the work on those with work that needs to be done on spindling.

And that sounds like fun to me, so I must be recovering!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

One eye slowly opens.........

So, there I was on the sofa on Saturday moaning to the DSM that I would feel that I had flu if I were running a temperature, and he was replying that well, that was a good thing and at least it couldn't be swine flu....

Which indeed it may not have been. Only - loads of people who were at SOAR have been reporting in that they have actually tested positive for H1N1. And giving their symptoms. Which match mine, precisely.


We shall never know. What I do know is that I have been feeling like death, and am only just really coming round. Temp or no, H1N1 or no, I shall surely be glad when this finally passes. Gilt well off holiday gingerbread, and game less worth the candle than heretofore.


Before I lose all enthusiasm, final round up.

gownless evening strap

My friend Jeannine modelling her gownless evening strap at the SOAR fashion Show. The girl has talent. For something.


I hadn't thought that this would come out at all. I have tweaked it a little with Photoshop to get it slightly closer to what I remember seeing. Glorious.


I fell in love with aspens, and particularly loved the trunks like these. There has to be inspiration for something in there somewhere.

Then there were other trees....

O tannenbaum?

Now, that is a Christmas tree!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake

Couple of shots from up at Crater Lake after leaving Bend. Like, wow.

Pleasant drive back to SF, and a final couple of lovely days with friends. The warmth of the weather and of the welcome both will stay with me all winter long.

I spent the long flight back quietly planning in my head all the nice things I was going to do over the next few weeks - I always come back with projects simmering even if most of them don't ever really fly. This time, though, my project is to simply recover. I am slowly improving, and have finally, finally, trawled through the loot. Now to work up some enthusiasm for doing something with it.

I have come back to mixed fortunes, anyway, some good news, some less so. many things to get my head around. First up, once my head clears a bit more, an article to write, and a proposal to get in; and I have a meeting on Monday to talk about something local that might prove to be both enjoyable and interesting.

There, if I can contemplate such, then all is not lost!

One final photograph. We drove up to Grizzly Peak on our last afternoon, and I took this directly in to the sun. Again, I've tweaked it in Photoshop, the graininess is deliberate. To me, views over the Bay are magical, and I love this. It is real - it is what I can see in my head.

From Grizzly Peak

And here, at home? It is dark and it is raining and I need another cup of tea.

Saturday, November 07, 2009


I'm back.

I'm sick.

I'm very fed up.

Whether I did the same as last year, and had first one bug and then another, or if it is one long mutating thing exacerbated by the long flight, I know not, neither do I really care. I just know I am sick.

So sick that I haven't even unpacked and gloated over my loot. So that tells you.

Updates as and when.