Monday, November 26, 2007

I've been away again ....

... and got back to find the most amazing parcel from my secret pal.

In it was yarn I would have bought for myself , given the chance.

And yarn I had bought for myself, but wasn't sure if I was buying enough!!

She is near enough a mind reader, and I'll reveal her identity when I have a chance to take some photos.

Monday, November 19, 2007

We're back from Cornwall

In fact we got back on Saturday evening, but had an Art Room business meeting that took up most of yesterday.

Then to add to it, we had no internet today, when I was at home all day.
It is the only day in the week that I have no other things on.
I used to go to a lip-reading lesson in the morning, but that is no longer running.
I miss it, but am glad to have the free time.

I did read my way through a backlog of e-mails including some UKHK that I had ignored when they arrived.
My inbox looks a lot healthier now.

But I couldn't do some of the things I had been counting on doing.
I did all the things I could think of to get it up and running, but forgot that making a phone call had sorted it out previously.

I am still pecking away with only the index finger from my left hand in use.
The swelling is starting to go down, and the flesh is almost the normal colour.
That finger is still much warmer than all the others.
It feels a bit like a chilblain, and is very sensitive to cold weather

I did a couple of loads of washing, and that is still on the line, as it rained sometime after I had hung it out.
As far as I am concerned it can stay there until tomorrow.

I made bread, and it should be ready to bake now.
The long finger on the left hand hardly gets involved when kneading the dough.
It is amazing that I can do some things that would have been impossible a week ago.

As for our time in Cornwall, it was fantastic.
I first went with my family when I was 17 or 18.
It was the last family holiday I went on.
The rest of the family have been down there several times since, though.
My father had wanted to retire down there from London, but died 19 years ago.

We had fun, ate a lot of good meals, gave a few bus drivers a purpose in life, and had a couple of fantastic coastal walks.
It took us pretty much all day on Monday to travel down, and the same again on Saturday coming back.
Part of that trip was on a rail replacement bus from Plymouth to Tiverton Parkway.
That wasn't fun, as it was packed, and we took about 20 minutes to drive a few hundred yards away from the station, as there was so much traffic.

I did do a lot of knitting on the journeys there and back, and Ian's sweater is growing.
The last time we were down in Cornwall must have been about 10 years ago.
So we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project for the first time.

At Heligan, we arrived on foot, having walked along the coast from Mevagissey via Pentewan.
I had one of the best bowls of soup of my life there, spicy pepper and tomato.
We had just enough time to see most of the gardens before they closed.
It was dark at the bus stop in the car park, and we were relieved when the bus pulled in on schedule.

The following day we went to Wheal Martyn near St. Austell, and then on to the Eden Project.
The china clay industry is well documented in this old pit, and walking to the top of the site brings some current workings into sight.

We had discovered that we could get a bus from Lostwithiel, where we were staying, direct to Wheal Martyn.
What we hadn't counted on was the tour through some northern estates of St. Austell picking people up to go shopping in Tesco's, or in the town centre.

The same bus service goes past the Eden Project, so on our return we were dropped off nearby.
We walked down thus getting a reduced entrance fee as we had walked in.
We didn't have quite enough time at the Eden Project, so might be tempted to make use of the annual pass.
We had another anxious moment waiting in the dark for a bus to take us back to St.Austell.

There we had a drink in the hotel that had suggested to us that we might not like to stay there as they have karaoke on Wednesday and Friday, and it gets noisy.
Having seen the size of their amplifiers, perhaps they were right in losing our business.

Going down there so late in the year is great, as we saw hardly any other tourists.
We had great weather, sunny with strong cool or cold winds most of the time.
The only rain was on Tuesday in Penzance, and we ducked in to Iriss of Penzance for five minutes on our way back to our hotel, missing some of the worst of it.

As we were dripping, and in a hurry I wish that I had done some homework first.
I would have liked to have seen the Gotland yarn that they have on their website.
Gotland is one of the best breeds that I have spun.
The colours are varied, going from white to black with fantastic dark greys.
It overdyes well, and has a bounce that is fun to knit with.
It is also very warm when spun finely as it holds so much air in the frizz that coincidentally resembles my hair.

Next time we should go for longer.
I was just limbering up to walk further each day!

Labels: , ,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

More haste ... less speed!

Although we have been together for nearly 13 years, I don't think that I have ever knitted a sweater for Ian. I've thought about, spun and sampled for them, but none seem to have come to fruition as yet. The dingy image above shows some recent sampling, which is now slowly being translated into a garment.

One of my favourite stitches is a k2, p2 moving rib. It can be knitted on smallish needles, yet gives a fluid warm fabric. It is great for mixing colours. The stripes are still visible, yet meld just a little. Here is an example using some of my handspun:

The other thing about it, is that it comes up to the same widthwise tension as garter stitch.
So, having acquired some wool, roughly 4 ply thickness that is in three distinct brown shades, I have been designing. Together with some ancient Rowan Donegal tweed colours it is taking shape.
The sample above was just to tell me whether the colours worked. Certainly my photography didn't! We are going away to Cornwall for a few nights, and this will be with me for the long train journey down to Penzance and back. I will be able to measure it against Ian and sweaters he has with him, what more could you ask for?
Of necessity, this trip was planned months ago, long before we had any inkling that the Art Room would be moving into larger premises. I will be missing out on some of the good stuff, and some of the nitty gritty, but hope to come back more able to help out.
This past week has been very busy. The other Mary was out in schools running sessions making pots for Diwali. I was running most of the open studio sessions, and making sure that the pots were dried out, and packed into the kiln for firing. I was glad that I didn't get to cope with the masses of children that came to the free event at Long Eaton town hall yesterday. There had been about 160 children there during the day, from 10.30 - 13.30.
And now it is time for those of a nervous disposition to look away!
On Wednesday, round about 16.40, I was leaving the Art Room (at 16.00 my 4 New Deal workers had left when the session ended). I brought my bike round, and as I was closing the heavy metal gate my left hand got in the way.
Now I know why Ravelry asks for a favourite swearword when filling out the profile.
Mine is roughly this: tsc#*=#, which you could well have heard had you been there.

This is how it looked this afternoon. Most of the swelling has gone down, and the other side isn't quite as black as it had been. This image makes it look much better than it is in reality.
It doesn't throb as much as it did, but is still much warmer than my other digits.
It limits what I can do. The feeling is now rather like a chilblain, but it is getting easier to touch it. For the first few days drying my hand was the worst thing I tried to do.
BUT I can still knit, not for as long as usual though!! I have been typing with only the index finger of the left hand in use. The others, and the thumb make a protective fist. This makes me even slower than usual in everything. I don't think that I'll make that mistake again. It all happened because I didn't want the metal gate to clang as I was tired.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

ACJ Midlands ... a quick mention

We had a fantastic time in Birmingham on Thursday night.
You can see some of it here.

No time to chat now, as I have to go to a meeting that starts at 18.30.
The next week or so will be amazingly hectic at the Art room, as we work on transferring into the much larger studio.
As there is no heating there at the moment, we will have to run all our sessions in the current premises.

More of that later.

Must dash, as it will take me about 20 minutes to cycle to my meeting.

Labels: ,