Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ashford tales and One Skein goodies

This week has been fun, but frustrating.
No voice, and hearing loss don't make for easy communication.

As a friend said to me today, "Do you find that people whisper to you when you have no voice?"
When I replied in the affirmative, she said "Oh that's no good for you!"

My stint at the Art Room today eneded up with me feeling frustrated with the spinning wheel we recently bought.
It is an early Ashford (Scotch tension), that seems to have been out in the rain for a bit. That is the least of its problems (and mine).

Over the past two weeks i have taken it apart, and pampered it. The big problem remains that the crankshaft is attached to the connecting rod with a bolt.

This curious assemblage has tightened up and gouged the leg. What you see above are my amendments. Here you can see the damage that has already occurred.

Not knowing how this was set up originally, I posted info on it to the Online Guild site. Several people responded, but no-one seems to have a wheel like this. I sent these images to Ashford in NZ on Thursday night, and received a reply on Friday morning.

They forwarded my e-mail to Haldane's, and yesterday morning Jim rang the Art Room before 09.30 to see how they might help.

Mary Stewart rang me at home to see if I had enough voice to talk to him, which I didn't.
We agreed that she would ring him back on my behalf when I got to the Art Room.

Before she could ring, we had three 16 year old boys come in, who are on a summer scheme.
They were having a first look at the Art Room, and ended up making pinch pots.
They were interested in the spinning wheel too; one of them asked quite a few questions.
I hope that next time they come in, I have enough voice to engage with them.

Mary had to talk to Jim on my behalf.
She knows nothing about spinning, but saw the wheel and bought it as she knew that I could spin.
I sat and whispered and nodded my replies as Mary and Jim talked.

His initial suggestion worked for a few minutes, then the nut fell off.
Jim is sending something in the post, and we wait with baited breath.

The problems are caused because the hole on the flat end of the crankshaft is threaded.
The bolt we have is only threaded for half of its length, so there is no chance to turn the bolt round.

This morning I tried spinning for a short while, but the nut kept falling off, and I have enough frustration only having a whisper for a voice.


Meanwhile ....

I found a lovely package in the post from my One Skein pal this week. I can't remember which day, but I was just rushing out of the door when it came.

In it was the softest purple skein of alpaca:

Nestled in with it were some pink and purple stitch markers, just my colours too:

I must rush now to see the Nottingham Steam Rally parade through the streets of Long Eaton. I've had the radio on, and haven't heard the whistles yet.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tagged by Jenn and Leigh

I have been tagged by Jenn for SP8:

1. What is your favourite season of the year and why?

Spring, as it lasts a long time here in the UK.
First we have spring bulbs, the trees put on leaves, and the perennial plants start to reappear, and all the while the days are getting longer.
Most of all, it is never too HOT.
It is frequently too cold/wet/dry, or all three in any combination.

2. Summer is hot. What do you knit in the summer?

I have been spinning silk, linen, and now cotton rather than knitting.
With our hot summer this year, I mostly knit samples of the yarns I have spun to see how they would work up.

3. If money was no object.....what would you buy at the LYS?

Exotic fine yarns such as Habu sell.
I'd love to try Handmaiden SeaSilk, Lorna's Laces fine yarns, and other similar fine yarns.
I'd also buy several sets (5 needles) of ebony sock needles.

4. What are some activities that have become family traditions for your family?

I can't think of any, either from childhood or now.

5. What is the weather right now?

Way too hot!!
I just looked and the outside thermometer has registered 32 C (90 F) in the shade at some point today.
No wonder there are loads of hoverflies in the house (we don't have screens unlike in north America), and it took me two hours to cool down when I went out to the art room earlier.
I am finding myself beginning to lurk in those local shops ( few and far-between) that have air-conditioning, when I go out.


The following list came to me from Leigh:

5 things always in my purse (my backpack, as no handbags here normally!):

1. hearing aid batteries
2. x10 lens for looking closely at things (textiles, jewellery)
3. business cards
4. A7 spiral notebook for jotting down that price or book title
5. studio keys

5 things always in my wallet (purse):

1. Cash
2. Online Guild programme card
3. postage stamps
4. ballpoint pen and propelling pencil that I find comfortable to write with
5. silk sample showing the correct, blueish shade of shocking pinks, to check against yarn, fibres or fabric in artificial light

5 things always in my refrigerator:
1. organic live plain yoghourt
2. cheese
3. carrots
4. innocent fruit smoothies
5. milk

5 things always in my closet (wardrobe):
1. A black jacket for formal occasions
2. Birkenstocks
3. walking boots
4. tops from Long Tall Sally, as though I am short I have a long back
5. secondhand textiles waiting to be remade into something exciting

5 things always in my car (I rarely drive, so with me when I leave the house on foot or by bicycle):
1. my mobile phone
2. library tickets
3. dental floss
4. Derbyshire train timetable
5. water to drink (and an umbrella to protect me from it)

5 things always on my desk (workbench):
1. Vernier caliper for measuring things
2. scraps of various grades of wet and dry paper
3. DAB radio
4. fine cotton yarn and scissors, so that I can tie skeins of yarn, etc.
5. pieces of metal, porcelain, yarn, beads etc. for me to contemplate and play with, and possibly even make something from.

5 People to tag: I'm not sure who to send this to, so feel invited to have a go.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

... and lost !

It's a day of extremes.
Margaret, Ian's mother, is visiting us this weekend, so we planned a day's outing.

Stephen drove us to the Harley Gallery this morning. Neither he nor Margaret had been there before. The exhibition was last year's Jerwood prize for Metal, which I had seen before in London.

Then we went on to Worksop for a timed appointment at a National Trust property, Mr Straw's House. Ian had been there before, but for the three of us it was a treat. This house was lived in by a family of shopkeepers called Straw. The two sons lived here after their parents had died.
One of them died in the 70's, but the other was still in the house until 1985. The house was still as it had been in the 1930's when their parents had decorated it. There are even bottles of goose greese from 1933 displayed with other groceries.

From there we drove to Thoresby Park, where we had lunch, and looked at the gallery and workshops.

On then to Southwell to another National Trust property, the Workhouse. As we arrived the storn clouds were getting ever closer. We were just crossing one of their courtyards when the heavens opened. An hour and a tremendous thunderstorm later we emerged to find that according to the car, the temperature had dropped from 30.5 C to 17.5 C. What a relief!

And when we got home, we found our rainwater tanks had filled up, so we can continue watering the garden.

Now, by now you may be wondering about the title of this posting.
What was lost?

Not the sunflower, but my voice. Again!!!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Found ....

I got up this morning to a dull, cooler day, hooray!!

Then, when opening the blind to allow the maximum amount of cool air to flow in upstairs, saw this:

Some "kind" soul has robbed another garden of a giant sunflower, and left it in our garden.

I haven't noticed any giant sunflowers nearby this year, so don't know where it has come from.

The resident teenager was just as astounded when he got up and opened his curtains this morning.

At least it has been delivered complete with a decent root system, so I have given it a bucket of water. I left a message for a neighbour in case she has any idea whose it is, but have had no reply.

Does anyone know what I should do next? I will be out at the time when the school comes out, and it will be most vulnerable.

Last day of term is tomorrow, and a prank like this might be more likely then.

The sun is just coming out now, so we can expect more heat soon. It was a record breaking day yesterday in England, the hottest July day ever recorded. We sweated our way through the reading group meeting in the library last night.

It is just as well that this weather is not common here, as only some shops have air conditioning, and very little accommodation has it either. Unlike on the continent, we don't have shutters to keep the sun out either. So we close the curtains, and open and close windows to get the best indoor temperature. Currently it is 26.4 C (79.5 F) alongside the computer, which is much better than the 31 C (87.8 F) of the past couple of days.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thinking cool

Here is the image I currently have as wallpaper on the computer.
Does it help me to think cool, well maybe.
It gets too hot upstairs at the computer, so certainly less blogging going on here. Yesterday it was 31 C (87.8 F) according to my alarm clock alongside the computer.

Like Leigh, I too spun the merino silk blend on Friday and got into a tangle.

I had to cut the tangled sections out and leave them until I have cooled down both physically and mentally!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Winding down ...

... and then revving up again!

No pictures this time.
It has been a busy time over the past few weeks. First we had our weekend in Turin, all accounted for here.

Then the following weekend I ventured up to Cockermouth to Woolfest.
That was a treat. I now understand why a friend just said "wow" last year after going.

Shortly after arriving I helped other members of the Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers set up the Association stand which we were stewarding this year.

I still need to edit the few photos I took there. As I was travelling by public transport I couldn't bring back anything too bulky, not that I had the time to buy much either.

The bus trip from Penrith to Cockermouth (and back) was a lovely relaxed experience, even with the finding of a suspect package on the return journey.

A man was about to leave the bus, and someone sitting near him saw him apparently kick a carrier bag under his seat. She asked him if it was his. He denied all knowledge of it. He left the bus. We drove on to the next stop ( a mile or so further along the road) and halted. The bus driver ventured to look at the package, found it to contain the remains of someone's lunch and drove on.

Then last week it was the turn of the ACJ conference in London. The Association for Contemporary Jewellery holds a conference every few years in a different British city.
This year, the theme: Carry the Can was all about our responsibility as jewellers to work in an ecological and ethical way.
A great conference, but London was too hot.

Now, when I'd like some time to digest the ideas stimulated by my recent travels, it is time to return to the Long Eaton Art Room and get back to helping run the open studio sessions.

This week, Mary found a spinning wheel in a local charity shop at a very good price. It is an Ashford Traditional of a fairly early date held together with screws rather than bolts.

It seems to have stood out in the rain for a while, and I have done a bit of mainteneance on it to remove the light covering of rust on the exposed metal parts.
Blotches on the woodwork will be something to attend to later.

I have replaced the brake band with a makeshift one of rather too light fishing line and a rubber band. But it does seem to spin fairly well. Now I have to remember to look for replacement cup-hooks, as the fibres are catching a bit on the rust.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

30 things about me for Kerrie

About a month ago, Kerrie suggested that we supply 30 facts about ourselves. Of course I can no longer find the original message, but will post this all the same.

1) It will be surprising if I haven’t yet missed the deadline for this.
I tend to live by a “more haste less speed” rule rather than the “focus” or “simplify” that I mean to adopt.

2) Purple is my favourite colour, despite having worn a purple and grey uniform in secondary school. I look good in it. I also feel drawn to the ochres and acid greens that complement the purples, but only in minute quantities.

3) The NHS just replaced my digital hearing aids with more modern purple ones (my choice). I have had some hearing loss since childhood, but this got worse when I developed tinnitus in my listening ear about 15 years ago.

4) I am a hoarder, but very good at “cosmetic” tidying. Paper follows me home and piles itself up all over the place. Yarn and fine wire do likewise.

5) I am a serial sampler. This means that I have many small examples of different techniques. Some of this eventually gets made into jewellery.

6) Blackcurrants are my favourite fruit and my favourite vegetable is spinach.

7) My favourite comfort food is an apple with a handful of almonds.

8) I get really excited by colour. Yesterday I saw a woman dressed in black, applying red lipstick from a stylish red holder while carrying a crimson bag and wearing a large red ring. I just had to tell her how exciting it looked. I just wish that I’d had a camera with me.

9) I don’t draw enough. I could have drawn it all if I’d had a sketchbook with me. I didn't start really drawing until I was on my art foundation course ten years ago. Now I take a sketchbook and pen with me when I travel.

10) I have 5 younger sisters and 3 younger brothers. This might explain my sometimes bossy "big sister" act.

11) I love silk. Apparently as a small baby I got very excited by it. I still gravitate towards silk and other natural fibres for clothing.

12) I never lived with a TV until 1994. When I was young we lived near my father's parents, who had one. But we only saw it on Friday afternoon after school. This was a bit of a conversation stopper at times.

13) I have naturally curly hair. I think that I just chose the right parents. People pay lots to have their hair done like mine, and it rarely looks as good.

14) I sometimes think that I talk too much. Others would say that this is true. Don’t forget that the hearing loss makes it easier for me to talk than to listen, and I have had a varied and at times exciting life.

15) I make all the bread we eat by hand. Kneading dough is good fun and I sometimes use it to get rid of frustrations.

16) I speak German fairly fluently, but don't like to write it. I learnt the hard way, by working in Switzerland as a waitress where only my boss spoke any English. I only saw her for about 15 minutes each day.

17) In the summer of 1977, my trench on an archaeological dig in Cyprus provided a big surprise - neolithic plaster faced mudbrick walls. A few pictures of the site at Kalvassos (Tenta) can be found here. I was just lucky, as the trench had been partially excavated by another person, and I just took it over half way through. She hadn't got as far as the exciting part. This was one of the major finds in Cyprus that year.

18) Despite being fairly short, I have a long back (and short legs). Thus I buy most of my t-shirts etc. from Long Tall Sally, as most stores don't make them long enough.

19) As far as I know I could knit before I first went to school aged five. I'm still knitting, thinking about knitting and learning about knitting half a century on.

20) I got my first bicycle at five. I still consider cycling the best way to travel anything up to about five miles from home. I am also very happy to walk when not cycling. Although I can drive, and have a licence, I'd rather not.

21) Despite cycling and walking to most places I am not all that fit. Now I no longer work in a library too much of my day is spent sitting and doing things. Now, is there some way to install a treadmill to power up equipment? Then I could work and power it at the same time.

22) Since I was in my 40's I NEED glasses to see details on anything closer than my knees. I spend quite a bit of time wondering where I put my glasses down the last time I wore them. I don't want to wear a cord or chain on them. I also hunt for my watch nearly as many times.

23) I always take a small cotton drawstring bag with me when I leave the house. Among other things this contains a x10 lens for looking at details of textiles etc. and spare hearing aid batteries.

24) When I was in Canada in the 70's I danced with an Estonian folk dance team. I had to learn enough Estonian to understand the dancemaster's commands. I even mastered their triple polka. Those were the days!

25) People never believe thatI am English. I am frequently asked if I am Israeli, Italian, Greek, Arab..... I am English, and despite my dark skin, hair and eyes the only known foreign blood is a little Swedish on my mother's side.

26) I prefer to travel backwards, particularly in trains. I think that this originally came from being a bit travel sick as a child.

27) I don't like too much heat, as it makes it hard to move energetically. I'd rather dress up to keep warm. I do like to see a bit of sun though.

28) At school, and afterwards, I was always in a choir, and until in my late 20's was in the first sopranos. I have great memories of performing in the St. Catherines Symphony Chorus conducted by Leonard Atherton, in the mid 70's. Now I have difficulty singing at all , and on the rare occasions that I do, put my fingers on my throat to check how good a note I am producing.

29) I prefer to produce 3 D art work rather than 2 D. Come along to the Long Eaton Art Room and see some of my knitted wire pieces on display.

30) I walked down the garden this morning and picked strawberries (pretty much the last), raspberries, gooseberries, red- and blackcurrants to add to my muesli. Life can't get much better than that, can it?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Timber !!!!!

Round about 09.30 this morning, I went into the garden to put out the washing line.
We'd had a heavy rain shower earlier on. I found that part of our cedar tree had broken. Fortunately, it was lying over a lower branch and hadn't damaged the Victoria plum noticeably.

12.00 saw us venturing out with a ladder, saw, and axe to cut the branch off.
Talk about "mad dogs and Englishmen" going out in the midday sun. The temperature had been steadily rising again, and at its peak today it was 31 C in the shade. Mid afternoon the car registered 34 C on a short drive.

So after much effort we ended up with less cedar, and a brown bin pretty full for the council composting pickup next week.

Sometime when it isn't so urgent or hot we will have to take off the branch that it fell down onto.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


See what nine hours of sun can do.

Another unusually hot day (28 C in the shade) here in southern Derbyshire found us hedge trimming.

This was a chance to try out electric hedgetrimmers on all sorts of plants. Somehow this included part of a self- or bird- seeded gooseberry.

One branch bearing rather underripe fruit was felled. I rescued the goosebeerries, and put them on the garden table.

They were green at 11.00, but now have blushed on one side. The one in the centre has been turned over to show the original colour.

Imagine what the effect on human skin would be. I've been keeping out of the sun all day.