Saturday, December 31, 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.........


A year that has given me a very fair share of wonderful things. And something more of a slice of normal real life downside of that than I would have wished.

I should start by saying that I do know what an extremely fortunate woman I am. I could very rapidly run out of fingers counting of people that I know personally who have had much worse this year than I have. That process would be even faster if I were to list all my many blessings. I know that - although, at one time I would not have, having turned myself over the years by strength of will from an awful pessimist to something of a rather annoying Pollyanna. As a steady background to my life I have good friends, things I love doing, cats that make me smile and give me hours of pleasure, a great place to live and sufficient money to keep me in spindles and books. And, I suppose, I should include the DSM (insert great big cheesy grin here) before I start getting the comments berating me.........

The teaching gigs this year took us all over the place and were all wonderful, if scary at times (but that is just me). I met even more great people, and thoroughly enjoyed passing on the skills that I have and learning in my turn from those I was supposed to be teaching (that's one of the things that I love about it.) With the DSM no longer slaving over a hot computer every day to earn a crust, we had more time both for work and recreational trips, and I found a new bit of the US to fall in love with.

But this year, the other side of the coin has been more insistent and omnipresent. Whilst it might be a common health complaint, hiatus hernia/GORD is, to put it mildly, a bugger to deal with, and although slowly getting there, I still haven't found all the tricks to manage it (and if one more person says to me that they or someone they know has the same thing and that one little pill a day sorted them out, I WILL NOT be answerable for my actions!!)

And then, there was my mother.

I don't think that I have gone on about it too much here in the blog, but neither did I make any secret of the fact that we had - no, I will rephrase that, I had with her, a - difficult - relationship. Exactly what she thought of me - well, I simply do not know. I had come to terms with quite a lot of it long ago, but I had always thought that her death might cause me, well, lets say some problems. It hasn't worked out quite as I thought, better in some ways, but I still have quite a bit to get through.

Not surprisingly, spinning has been a huge solace. I will by the end of today have finished some very pretty mid-green merino and silk that is going to be a knitted shawlette with a crocheted edging. At least I hope it is - that has been the plan all along.

Then, every evening, in lieu of reading in bed because the stupid ski slope that I need because of the aforementioned health niggles makes sitting up in bed uncomfortable, I have been listening to an audio book and spinning thick yarn on my Sidekick.

Now, this may not seem entirely logical - I could maybe do a better job of a thick yarn using the largest head on my Lendrum. But I wanted to run in the new wheel and get used to it, so....and anyway, it has worked.

This is Falklands top, which has a tendency to puff up when washed, so I am not quite sure what thickness it will end up being (and no, I didn't sample. This was therapy as much as anything else!) I'm thinking more aran than bulky. It is intended to be a waistcoat, when I have decided what colours to dye it. There will be fourteen skeins, but I don't know the yardage - but if there isn't enough, I can do more, no?

I also needed a dead simple knitting project, so I cast on an Einstein jacket from Sally Melville's "The Knit Stitch." A nice design, but - boring. And because I missed a vital detail in the instructions (not hugely well laid out, in my own defence,) I have been doing a three needle bind off on the shoulders when it would have been better not to have done. I think I can work around that, though. Why seam when you don't have to? I used some chain-plyed Rovings Polwarth in colourway "Mojave" that had been in my stash for ages, and that had a false start as an afghan. In this project, it looks great, and I will photograph it when finished.

I am not making any "resolutions" or "intentions" for next year. I have them - to get past this and to enjoy what good stuff the year brings whilst hoping for the minimum of the bad.

But as I keep on saying to everyone's annoyance, it is all part of life's rich pattern. Never the less, I am not going to be sorry to see the back of 2011.

OK, this has all been very self indulgent. In future, I hope, less of that and more of the craft - I do have some great plans for 2012. Lets hope that I can put at least some of them in to action!

Meanwhile...fighting and conquering risk of soppiness here - my very best wishes for a very happy new year to you all.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Everything comes.....

....if you only wait. Well, sometimes not, obviously, but this time.....

Another drive-by post, to record an amazing night. Couple of weeks ago, the DSM and I independently but simultaneously came across reviews of the Paul McCartney 2011 tour "On the Run". Wow, we thought, would have loved to have gone to that. But to my amazement, the DSM got straight on to the computer, and got us two tickets for the last night of the tour - in Liverpool. (I shall not tell anyone just how much, at such short notice, that cost us!)

I thought I knew what to expect - after all, I grew up with Macca and the Beatles catalogue (although I was always a George fan, myself). I was quite sure it would be a fun night out...

It wasn't what I had expected. I'm not going to drool on at length, but it was fanbloodytastic. No prima donnas, just seriously good musicians. For around three hours straight. No supporting band, no interval. Just slick and fast instrument changes, and a little bit of chat with the audience - nothing much, a few anecdotes, and a few interactions with the vast audience. Mostly just good rock music. Yes, that was one of the most surprising things to me, how much the "pop" had morphed into "rock" over the years.

Then, the other thing that took us aback - given that we don't make a habit of going to rock gigs, and being basically simple souls was this.
The sound isn't of the greatest quality, but the pyrotechnics were fab.

I am so glad we went.

ETA: lots more videos on Youtube, of course.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I did say I might

I have had such a nice week that I felt like blogging it - so here I am.

Monday - regular day, but the DSM's art class and chess in the evening - two things that he loves doing, and I enjoy the alone-time!

Tuesday - I had lunch with two of the Coven. For all sorts of reasons, we haven't been getting together recently, and it was lovely to see them and to catch up. Coffee in one cafe, lunch in another (HB is full of excellent ones!) and then a little bit of browsing round HB shops, something I could do at any old time, of course, but much nicer in pleasant company.

Wednesday - big, exciting day.

So, HB this ain't. The DSM has decided that we need a little bit more action? adventure? cultural activity? in our lives. So, first up, a day trip to London for an Exhibition. All went extremely comfortably and smoothly, and having come up from the Underground at Picadilly Circus, we set off to walk the short distance to the gallery with our eyes open for somewhere for lunch. And found, to our great delight, that we were walking past Fortnum & Mason. So, in we went, found their bar restaurant and had a very nice lunch. (At, I should add, a very "nice" price!) But it is sometimes worth paying for quality.

This is how our peppermint tea was served. Now, is that stylish, or what?

After this leisurely break, we moved on to the Royal Academy - we had tickets for 2pm.

And this is what we had come to see. It was an extremely interesting exhibition with not only works by Degas, but also some other things following the same theme of "movement" - photographs, sculptures, movies. Our only real problem with it was that for reasons of conservation (and it seems to be true of most exhibitions these days) the light level was very, very low. Plus, I think most curators/designers must be very young with excellent eyesight, as labels are never in a large enough type face, and all too often grey printed on grey. Still, we managed.

I really liked the early work, was less keen on the middle period, and then again loved the late pieces, with the explsions of brigt colour and the influence of the newly popular Russian dance which seemed to have given Degas a new lease of life.

A centre piece was "The Little Dancer", of course, borrowed from The Tate. It was the first time I had seen it, and I loved the detail - those wrinkles tights from the days before elastication were so endearing!

We spent longer there than we might have done, and so didn't feel like going on anywhere else. Instead, we returned to Fortnum's, and knocked off a bit of Christmas shopping, having already done some in the Academy Gift Shop. Then stopped for a cup of tea and a sandwich before returning to King's Cross. Although we did take a few steps up Regent Street to look at the Christmas lights.

Thursday - a day of recovery, but enlivened by the arrival of a huge box of fleece from Beth Smith of The Spinning Loft for the Rare Breeds Spinalong, now expanded to share with the AH class. I also ordered som moorit Cormo for my own delectation. Ahem.

Friday - we had a most interesting morning with a young art student from Leeds, who is doing a project on creative people. We spent quite a long time talking to her, and then she took loads of photographs of us (yes! even me!!) I had intended to include one or two of them here, but I think they must be in a format not accepted by either Photoshop or Flickr, as I have them in a file on the pc, but can't get them loaded in to either. Later, maybe.

To finish, I just want to say thank you to everyone who contacted me one way or another with thoughtful messages - it really helped. And - to reassure everyone that although mostly silent, I am spinning and knitting up a storm. Eventually, some of it will find its way on to the blog.

OK, ducking out of sight again, now.......