Thursday, September 29, 2011

It has been a few days

And we have come a long way. All the way from Manchester to Cape Cod, in fact.

A good trip over, despite Dublin Airport deciding that for some reason our flight was not going to be immigrationed, so to speak, until we arrived in Boston, so we had to join an even worse queue than usual because there were half a dozen flights in and only three Immigration Officers to process us all. Grr.

Still, everything else, including the vehicle pick up went fine, and we reached our rented apartment with minimum hassle to find that we had chosen a terrific one. Really smart, well kitted out and comfortable. And right on the beach. We allowed ourselves an easy first day, apart from food shopping - and eating a nice lunch at a very good local diner.

Tuesday - the next day - we had ourselves a long promised outing. I'm not going to write all that much about it, other than to say that it was awesome. And you know I don't often use that word, and never lightly.

The following pics are not of an outstanding quality, they had to be snatched as and when, without much warning. But here goes.

These were humpback whales; there were several around, feeding up for migration. They showed us a wide range of behaviours, mainly feeding by "lunging" giving us good views of wide open mouths, throats, balene (sp?)although the naturalist on board was able to point out the "bubble" method telltale as well. And obviously, showing us some terrific flukes. I hadn't realised that each fluke is unique, so they were able to identify two of the whales as named regulars.

Earlier, we had a super sighting of the much less common to this particular region sei whales. Which I have to confess, I had never heard of! But they were smaller and faster, and I found them totally impossible to photograph.

We had another fairly quiet day today, but again including a really great lunch. I suppose it isn't too surprising that this part of the world should have a lot of good eating places.

It is all very beautiful, and there are loads of interesting things to do. There should be more reports later.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

'Twas on a Wednesday morning that

Having survived the blasted cats into the porch to be able to go outside and feeding Neelix his first breakfast routine at 5.30am, established by the DSM and bitterly resented by me when he is away - I eventually managed to fall back in to a deep sleep.

From which I awoke with a bang, squinted at the clock, and saw to my horror that it was now 9.30! So the poor little blighters had been left outside or lurking in the porch for hours longer than usual and I was a bad and wicked mother.

So I rushed downstairs and got their food ready, let them in - well, two of them, the other was showing her displeasure, but she did come back quite quickly.

Breathed. And looked at the kitchen clock to see that it was barely 8.30am. OK, later than they like, but not the over-sleeping outrageousness that I had at first thought. I could have got up gently after all. Although I did have to be up - the gasman was coming. We have an intermittent fault with our boiler. I knew it was going to be a bugger to get sorted. It is likely to be one of two things, the one being much more expensive to fix than the other. The upside is that it can't be diagnosed conclusively until the central heating is being used - and there I was, feeling damn chilly and wonering if the DSM would find out if I put the heating on while he was away. Now I have legitimate cause, yippee.

Having spent yesterday in frippering away the time, I have done rather better today.

The merino and tencel, now washed and dried. It has come out beautifully, much softer than I had thought it would be. It will make a beautiful lacy cowl.

And sorry to be boring, but this is destined to be a cowl as well, assuming there is enough of it. I have left it as singles, to make the most of the quantity, and I am thinking that I will maybe knit flat and then mattress stitch together. Normally I wouldn't, but to get the simple stitch pattern that I want without biasing, I think I will have to. We shall see.

And - I have finished, all bar the shouting, ie darning in the ends, washing and blocking, the Captiva wrap, which has come out beautifully. Merino and silk, and again, quite nice and soft/cushy. I like this pattern, although when I do it again, as I shall, I will make the odd alteration. Despite the appearances from the schematic, the "tail" section is not very long, and would look a great deal better if instead of decreasing every row, it was every other, thereby elongating it a bit. I reckon that a couple more sections in the first part would be nice for me as well. But this first one is more than satisfactory, and I am very pleased with it.

Now I am working on finishing the spinning of the next lot of merino and silk, the silvery grey. Which may well be the next Captiva. If I can persuade Neelix not to help me.

The cats don't like it when one of us is away. There is hunting going on, more than usual, and Ruby sprang a first today - a dragonfly! Poor thing was mortally wounded rather than deceased, so I had to administer euthanasia. I hate it when that happens, but at least this was better than if it had been a rabbit.

So, back to spinning, during which I can finish off a rather good audiobook, and then to decide what to spin next. While the cat's away - well, you know what I mean.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This week....

It has been all about the cotton. Almost.

One of the many things about me that is considered weird is that I love spinning cotton. I have done ever since taking a Retreat class at SOAR with Patricia Emerick on spindle spinning cotton and being told that the most important thing is to relax. Best advice evah. I find it a magic process - as you barely hold on to the sliver, you can feel the thread forming within the fibre - all you have to do is let it ease out. Well, and sort out the slubs, but that is mostly not too huge a problem.

Having said that, spinning cotton is not something that I do all that often, so this week's preparation was a real treat. I was going to inflict it on them at AH (I live in hopes of the light bulb moment happening for someone.) In the event, there were for the first time in my tenure insufficient people booked on, and the class was cancelled. Too close to the last one; a weaving course; and probably - cotton!

But the prep was not in vain, as the DSM and I were demonstrating cotton spinning up at Gibson Mill on Saturday. This mill used to be first a cotton spinning, later weaving mill. It seemed like a good plan, and I think it worked well. I am not, these days, a great fan of demonstrating to the public, but this was a genuinely interested set of visitors to the venue who were either already quite well informed about textiles, or could ask intelligent questions, and none of the children were anything other than pleasant. We enjoyed out time, spinning on wheel, charka and spindles, both akha and supported.

It was lovely to get out my charka - I have a Bosworth attache, which is a dream to spin on. While I was prepping, I was at the same time thinking what I could do with the fairly fine and slightly slubby yarns that I was accumulating, and I am considering putting two current ideas together and doing a small tapestry weaving using the natural shades of white, brown and green with some recycled blue jean (still got quite a lot in the stash) and some indigo dyed that the DSM has had on the go for.....quite some time. He says he can spare me a little bit! I actually have a tapestry loom already warped, so maybe I will manage to do this over the winter?

The Captiva wrap looks as if it might be finished for SOAR after all. I slowed down a bit, thinking that I was going to run out of yarn and have to frog, which would have been....annoying, before remembering that there was a third ball buried in a basket by my seat. From then on I have been fairly motoring - I am on to the tail section now, which is decidedly hopeful.

The process was helped by it being Bear Knitters today. Nice gathering, as usual. I ordered a latte when we first arrived, and it looked so pretty that I felt forced to photograph it, my camera still being in my bag from the day before. When I hadn't had time to use it. I hope this isn't too fuzzy - you'll get the gist, anyway!

Right, I'm off to skein the merino and tencel finished days ago that is still languishing on the bobbin. The DSM is away next week, so I am hoping for some quality knitting and spinning time. I'm thinking that there is sufficient for a cowl, which would make a nice travel project if I can get worked out how I want it to go - and if I get it done on the flights over, I can wear it if we do the hoped-for whale watching trip (hurricanes permitting - but I'm not thinking about that!)

Sunday, September 04, 2011


There had been a note through the door when we got back from Scotland from Parcelforce, which had surprised me as I didn't think I was expecting anything. Then I had a glimmer of a thought, but didn't dare let the excitement run free.

It took a few days to get the delivery organised. Friday, the parcel arrived, and yes, it was from the US, and again yes, it was heavy. Could it be?

It was.

A large part of the weekend has been devoted to browsing through it. This book is amazing. Beautifully presented, beautifully researched, a mine of information about the fibres, and all sorts of interesting little snippets alongside. I know from reading Deb's blog what a long and hard job it was to get it done, but, wow indeed, it was truly worth it, and there muct surely be a lot of grateful spinners out there. Each fleece/fibre is fully analysed, documented, illustrated in a clear and totally informative way. It is useful and enthralling. Yes, I know, I am burbling, but it gets you like that. Now I want to get my hands on some of the breeds therein that I haven't spun yet......

I realised that I have been knitting away on the latest shawl without putting up a photograph. It is the Captiva wrap, by Carol Feller. I bought the pattern at Knit Nation last year, mainly because the stall had a kntted example on display, and so you could see the elegance of it. It is a beautiful wrap, and perfectly staightforward to knit, but in some ways something of a pain. Because of all the short rows, and the undulating edging, you have to constantly count, even though it is mainly garter stitch.

Still, it is working up quite well, although I am keeping my fingers crossed that it really is going to block out to the right depth.....

I would like to get it finished for SOAR, but that may be a wish too far. Arrangements for which trip are nearly all in place. More of a trippery trip and rather less SOAR, for various reasons, this year. Nine days at the shore at the very top of Cape Cod, three days at SOAR itself, and then a couple of days in Boston. Fingers crossed again that there are no hurricanes while we are there!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Best of intentions......

(Edited to add - the pc is speaking to the card reader now, so photos added!.)

I started off very well. I got out some really pretty fibre batts from the stash (from FeltStudioUK, I think) and sat and stared at them in a purposeful manner whilst thinking how I might approach spinning them and with what end in view.

I do hope you are impressed?

There not being such a huge quantity, I decided that I would divide the batts pretty much by colour and spin to knit with singles. The hope is to have sufficient for a shawlette, but if not, fingerless mitts could also be made to work (I could either knit them in garter stitch to sew up at the end, or knit in the round and enjoy the slanting stitches.) So, off I went, full of enthusiasm and hoping to have the yarn spun quite soon.

Of course, life isn't like that, is it?

Firstly, we had an enjoyable day packing up the Journals for the Online Guild, something we have been promising to do for ages and not being able to, so I was very glad to finally get a chance. Two years or so, apparently, before our turn will come round again - I wouldn't mind more often, good company, good lunch and a job well done is a fine way to spend time!

The next day we had scheduled to visit my mother, as we hadn't been over for a while what with being away. I'll come back to this.

I then had a couple of days of feeling seedy, before the Bank Holiday weekend and some more family visiting, which was all very nice but didn't leave much time for more than a little gentle knitting.

Tuesday to Thursday - ah, bliss! The DSM went off to York for a chess gathering, which should have left me lots of time for spinning, but somehow the time managed to get filled up with bookgroups and shopping and socialising - all my own fault and I had a really nice couple of days, so I shouldn't complain....

I decided, though, that on the Thursday, I should go to York to pick the DSM up, visit the friends he had been staying with, but most importantly, visit my mother again. This should give you the clue that stuff rather more personal than usual is about to follow, so, be warned.

When we had seen her the week before, I had been totally stunned by the change in her. She had moved rooms, for various reasons, and this was the first time I had been to the new one, so I was a little unsure if we had the right room or not. I didn't recognise the shrunken little woman lying in the bed - that wasn't my mother. But it was. She was asleep, and confused when we woke her, but she did know us and made valiant efforts to talk with us. We stayed a while, and then, as she was struggling to stay awake, we left. We took the opportunity to talk to the care home manager on the way out, but there wasn't much she could tell us. Nothing diagnosably wrong - my mother is just fading out. The process is accelerating, but of course, no one can have any idea about timescale.

You always know this time will come - and in my case, given the relationship with my mother, I have always known that it would be a...shall we say, very complicated time. You can't gauge your feelings, reactions in advance. And now I find I can't easily do that anyway.

But the visit on Thursday was very useful for me. Although my sister had seen her on Saturday and had felt that she was better, I felt that she had slipped a bit further away on this visit. She did know me, tried even more valiantly to talk, but after about ten minutes, fell deeply asleep again (apparently she spends most of the time like that now). I sat there, sometimes knitting, for about an hour. Sometimes, though, I was just pondering. There is a lot to process.

I will go again in a few days - it is just that bit too far to go every day, although I could go over and stay if that becomes appropriate. I don't think that she is remembering our visits, but that isn't the point.

Meanwhile, I shall knit on, and hopefully fit some spinning in as well. We are demo-ing cotton spinning up at Gibson Mill next weekend, so I need to practise that a bit. Nice, meditative stuff.

Thanks for bearing with me...........