Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Too much time spent in changing rooms ...

... seems to have netted great results.
The fashions around in England at the moment seem to suit me well.

I always dread looking for anything other than t-shirts.
Having discovered that Long Tall Sally has nicely fitting t-shirts that are long enough for me, I head there first.
This time round H&M also have t-shirts to fit me.

Every Tuesday for the past month I have been shopping for clothes.
About the only thing I haven't bought is shoes.

And when you see these socks on the feet, you will see that I'd rather show them off. I do go around in socks at home though.

I haven't posted much recently, as somehow not having a speaking voice makes me not want to say anything much to anyone.

So I have been out in the garden busily preparing to plant a few things that I bought, and some seedlings that I have been raising in the greenhouse.

As a result, I have been serenaded for hours on end by a bird sitting high up in the cedar towards the bttom of the garden. I am no expert at birdsong, and as it is too high to see, can only suggest that it is a blackbird.

While listening to this, I have been clearing hardy geraniums from an area near the house. It is fairly shady, and as I work I keep on disturbing frogs, and newts.

The second newt I saw was only about 3 cm long (1 1/4"). It would have been hard to miss.

One of the frogs stayed near me for about half an hour. During that time it caught and ate three items, insects I presume. Shortly after munching, one or other of the front feet was raised, and the mouth was wiped - how polite. It even put its tongue out and licked a small piece of coal that was in the soil!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Real rain ... and the latest socks

We had next to no rain for the whole of April .
Coupled with unseasonably warm weather, everything in the garden is now about three weeks ahead of normal.
Well, the past couple of days have made a difference.
Yesterday, Sunday, it rained pretty much solidly all day.
When we had a bit of rain last week, we took advantage of it, and topped up our garden pond by siphoning off water from our rainwater tanks. The pond looked much better, the frogs and newts had more wet space, and we had half empty tanks.

Yesterday's rain has filled them again, and then they overflowed like mad.
The ground had been made receptive by the rain last week, and the temperatures are much more normal for this time of year. Today it ranged from 4 C to 11 C (40 F to 52F), and felt so much fresher.

Which brings me round to the subject of sock knitting.

When we had the warm weather, I found that I had to think about where I would be during the day, and dress my feet accordingly. The concrete floor in the Art Room makes it cool most of the year. Wearing handknit wool socks seems to work well when I am there.

These latest socks have been a long time in gestation.
I bought the Regia Stretch colour 81(Clown) when I first visited Blackberry Yarns in Mountsorrel. That was not long after it opened, roughly a couple of years ago.

Ian and I made a trip by train to the nearest station, in Sileby, and then walked across the fields, pausing to look at Sileby Mill on the River Soar on the way.
Recently I came across some Skacel Trampoline Stretch colour 239.
I had never heard of it, which, given the multiplicity of available sock yarns, is not too surprising. This has the same fibre compostion: 70% wool/23% nylon/7% polyester (elite).

Alongside one another they don't look too promising:

Both are rather bright, and I don't warm to knitting either of them on their own. Together though, I get the perfect "Liquorice Allsorts" effect:

Now I just want the weather/ArtRoom to stay cool enough for me to get to the end of the boring, slow growing, 3 x 3 rib tops so that I can wear them.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Dress code

These words are scaring me right now.
In a couple of weeks time I will be taking part in the guest programme of a conference.

Having just received the detailed programme, I saw the heading Dress Code.

I quote: "For the events on the Monday and Friday evenings, gentlemen are requested to wear suits or blazers and ties. Definitely no jeans. A suit, dress or cocktail wear would be appropriate for ladies.
For technical visits and the guest programme, smart casual wear is acceptable, but no shorts or jeans please."

Anyone who knows me will know that since I left my job n Cambridge I live in jeans.
I have smart and less smart jeans for different occasions, but smart casual wear (whatever that is) does not figure in my wardrobe.

A couple of weeks ago I did some shopping, and got some new t-shirts for this event, now it looks as though I'll be faced with more changing rooms, if I can find the time.

So please pray that I can find a couple of pairs of linen or linen mix trousers in the shortest amount of time.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The best thing that happened so far today ....

.... was getting my latest SP10 parcel from the post office.

What wasn't so perfect was finding that I had no voice when I went to ask for it. (I've had a cold for the past week, that has just got round to day long voice loss.)
That was the first time I had needed to talk today, popping in to the sorting office on the way in to the Art Room.

The contents are perfect!!!

First the overview: yarn, yarn and a card with a coastal scene from Scotland.

Looking a bit closer you can find that I was terribly impatient, and wound the smaller skein up into a ball while at the Art Room.

I even redistributed the stitches of my current sock which was in my bag, so that I could rob a couple of the needles. Using this will take a little thinking. There is just over 100 gm, so it won't go far unless stretched with another yarn. It looks really good in this simple slipped stitch pattern, which also makes a lovely firmish fabric.

Then here is a close-up of the lovely skein of laceweight silk:Winding that is definitely a job for a swift rather than the back of a chair!

Thank you so much Secret Pal. You really got it right.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Fiber Swap questionnaire

What do you use your fibre for? I use fibres predominantly for spinning, but sometimes for wet felting or needlefelting (see some of the jewellery on my blog for instances of this).

What kind of spinning do you do or what do you spin for? I spin to knit (or sometimes crochet)
If you knit, weave, spin, crochet, needle felt, or do other fibery pursuits, how long have you been doing those things? In the early 80’s I won a fleece, and thus had to learn to spin. It was a Welsh Black Mountain, a lovely colour to start with. A year or so later I bought myself an Ashford double drive wheel. Since then I have spun when I feel like it.

What level of expertise are you at? I’d say I am an intermediate spinner. I don’t keep accurate records, but sample a lot before embarking on a project. I often dye fibres before spinning them. Just occasionally I dye my spun yarn.

What fibres have you worked with? I have spun various breeds of sheep (Gotland is a favourite), alpaca, silk, cotton and other plant fibres.

Which fibres, fibre blends, and types of fibres do you prefer? I like to spin fine yarn, and often blend silk in with fleece. That way I can get colour and/or shine without losing the elasticity that the wool imparts.

Are you interested in working with raw fleece? If so, what type? Anything that will result in a fine yarn, and that is naturally white or grey to black. I don’t like buff or browns.

What fibery tools do you currently have (e.g., spinning wheels, drop spindles, combs, cards, etc.)? As I mentioned before, I have an Ashford double drive wheel. I also have a Bosworth spindle, hand cards, swift, and a couple of niddy noddies.

Do you crave any tools, books, or videos? Amy R. Singer’s recent book “No sheep for you” sounds interesting. I haven’t yet seen a copy, so am not sure whether I would buy it. I already have an extensive library of textile books, built up over the past 30 years or so. I don’t have an inch/centimetre gauge, usually using a ruler when I want to check yarn dimensions.

What fibres are you absolutely dying to get your hands on? Having read of qiviut and buffalo fibres, I’d like to try them, just a handful or so. I’d also like to try out milk protein fibres, again in small quantities. Surprisingly, I haven’t yet tried Blue-faced Leicester.

Which fibres do you absolutely not want to work with? Anything artificial, course in texture and/or buff in colour.

Do you prefer natural colour fibres or pre-dyed fibres? I like both. I like merino/silk, merino/flax, and merino/cotton mixes.

What are your dye and colour preferences? My favourite colour is purple, and I like vibrant bright jewel colours, using either synthetic or natural dyes. Otherwise indigo is a favourite. I don’t like pale pastel colours, but do like the acid greens/yellows/oranges that are the opposite of my favourite colours.

Any allergies or things your pal should be aware of? I dislike smoke and animals anywhere near me or any of my things. I refused to spin some dog hair a few years ago for that reason.

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

Losing centimetres (inches even!) in the garden

No, not me, not yet!

After having thought about it for a long time, we finally sorted out the fencing on the west side of our back garden.

When we moved here in December '95, we inherited a fence that we knew would need replacing sometime. Each winter we looked at it, and said "next year".

Well, this time round we had to do something, as our neighbours have a young dog who was gradually exploiting all the weak spots to look into our garden and bark at us (or passing cats).

Steve, Mr Smartfence came on Wednesday, and started the transformation. By Thursday evening it was done.

So here are more spot the difference pictures:

Here we have the quiet green decaying fence on the other side of the original 1920's (?) concrete posts.

And here it is with its posts hidden, and a new, (currently) two-tone brown fence.

This was a brilliant solution. Steve utilised the old concrete posts that were solidly in the ground.

In places he had to drill new holes through them to attach the wooden uprights before constructing a new fence.
Here it is undressed, on Wednesday evening.
The two-tone colour comes about because he had to go to more than supplier to get the right length of palings.
It seems that recently there has been a shortage of fence palings here in Britain, so we took what we could.
It will weather, and then we will paint it green to match all other fences on our property.
In the meantime I have other concerns. This bank holiday weekend, unusually, I am at home on my own.
Great, a chance to sort out SP10 parcels, and engage in the Fiber Swap run by Shelby.
But I have a cold, and woken by a sneezing fit at 02.30, I detected the sound of the central heating boiler (I can hear such sounds without my hearing aids).
After three exploratory trips downstairs, I was unable to sort it out, and dropped off to sleep around 03.30.
Today I have tried all sorts, and am not sure whether I have managed to tame it.
The boiler is spontaneously igniting, whether the timer is set to be on or not.
We never have the heating on at night, so it is even more disturbing.
Going back to SP10 and stashes, I had been looking for blogs of others in Shelby's group, and came across Baseball Knitter's post of April 28th on the way. Now that would have been the perfect parcel for me too.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

35/30 years ago ...

35 years ago on April 30th, 1972 I worked what I hope will have been my last day as a waitress.
I had spent a year in Switzerland at a couple of hotels working in the dining room each time.

First I was in Ennetbaden at the Hotel Hirschen, then went on to do a winter season at the Hotel Hohe Promenade in Arosa.
Hotel Hirschen was a Bad-Hotel, meaning that there were thermal springs and the hotel offered treatments as did most other hotels in the town, which is west of Zurich.

By contrast the Hotel Hohe Promenade is in Arosa, a ski resort, not far from the border with Lichtenstein and Austria.
Here I managed to go skiing only once.
Some days I did get to skate during my two hour afternoon break.
More often though I was laundering my uniform and and starching my aprons.

I worked until 20.00 on 30th April, and left the following day, travelling down to visit friends near Luzern.
That day I seemed to see several seasons, as I went from winter right through to late spring as I descended from the mountains.

Five years later, April 30th 1977 was the last day I worked in Canada, as I worked out my notice as a senior library assistant at Brock University in St.Catharines, Ontario.
Towards the end of May I travelled home to England on a Russian ship out of Montreal.

So at this time of year I always think of the good friends I made during my 5 years in Canada.
I am still in touch with many of them, and am very thankful for the wonders of e-mail.
My erratic blogging helps to keep some of them at least, up to date with some aspects of my life.

Yes this is the time of year for moving on, sometimes ...