Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to The Early Music Show. This week it’s Jan Dismas Zelenka, an 18thC Czech composer. Radio 3 certainly broadens my horizons.

Reading: I’ve moved on in my Pratchett reading to Truckers, which I bought for Babybel, though she hasn’t shown much interest. I’m enjoying it, though.

Watching: An Art Lover’s Guide on BBC4 – Janina Ramirez and Alistair Sooke on Lisbon. Their programmes always make me want to visit the places they go to, although I was ashamed about how little I knew about the history or art of Portugal. Apart from a bit about Salazar, and a bit more, courtesy of the BBC, about Paula Rego.

Making: my pair of long woolly socks are finished, bar weaving in the ends. Just in time for the warm weather. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is impossible to make identical socks with this wool, as the colour changes don’t seem to repeat themselves. Not that it worries me much.

To ensure the weather stays better, I’ve started a pair of fingerless gloves, which are knitted sideways and hence flat! I don’t knit flat. To do so I had to find some straight needles. This was harder than it should have been. I have a vintage set in a case somewhere, but since I tidied up my workroom, I can’t find them. I had to raid my collection of vintage needles. These are slightly longer than I like, so I may change over to a short circular if they get too irritating, though it seems ridiculous to use even my shortest circular for 35 stitches in 4 ply. The yarn is left over from Wensleydale’s luminous socks, and I have no idea if I have enough.

My weaving also needs the ends darned in, as you can see. One of my books on tapestry weaving (if you can apply such a term to my efforts) says to let the weaving rest for 24 hours after you take it off the loom, so I am. (OK, it might be a tad longer than 24 hours.) It is ‘just a sampler’, into which I squeezed as many ideas as I could before the warps ran out. The chop stick may or may not be part of the finished thing, at the moment it’s just holding the warps while I decide what to do with them.

The embroidery sampler continues. This is after Anne Brandon Jones, but with fewer detached buttonhole stitches. I decided 352 in the mandala and 44 in the border was enough. I can’t decide if I like blue and orange together, but on the whole I think not.

Feeling: betwixt and between. The adrenaline resulting from the mad tidying which took place before the photographer came has run out. (He took some great photos, by the way – you wouldn’t recognise the place.) But now we have no energy left, though there is still lots to do.

Anticipating: a busy day on Monday as we have the children – they don’t go back to school until Tuesday but daddy goes back to work on Monday. We have a list of things to do, which is getting longer by the minute.

Visiting: just a local visit this week, to the Gerald Scarfe exhibition at the Discovery Centre. Of course, I was familiar with his political cartoons, but not his theatrical and film work, which is covered in this show. The first thing which strikes you is the colour, then the imagination and creativity. I found it very exciting, and a real eye-opener.

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Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to The Early Music Show on Radio 3. It’s about Johan Helmich Rohan, a Swedish Baroque composer who’s new to me.

Reading: Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, which I’ve not read before. It’s an interesting exploration of the nature of belief, but not destined to be one of my favourites.

Watching: the last of BBC4’s Make! Craft Britain. Watching beginners learn to knit was an interesting experience. Would I have started them off like that? I can see the reason for making a chunky hat – quick to finish – but as someone who finds very big needles uncomfortable to hold – and who doesn’t hold her needles the way they were shown – part of me was saying ‘Noooooo!’. Also, I thought the programme glossed over my biggest objection to making a chunky hat on straight needles – the seam. Or as the programme called it, the ‘hem’. (Noooooo!). The process wasn’t actually shown on the programme. Neither was the result. Can’t imagine why.

I found no faults with the section on mosaic. Probably because I’ve never done it. (Opinionated, moi?)

Making: socks and samplers. And weaving. I signed up for a class at the Discovery Centre, run by Isabella, who also taught the macrame class I went to before Christmas. It was good fun and I learned a lot.

OK, my result is not brilliant, partly because I ran out of time, but it’s ‘just a sample’. I came home, did a bit of Googling, and started on a long sample of (almost) all the ideas I’d found. That’s stalled a bit because we’ve been busy with othe things, but I’ll get back to it after Tuesday. I realised that the little Spears loom I bought in a charity shop (just like the one I had as a child) allows me to have a longer warp than the other looms I have. Up to 5 feet according to the box, although I think it will be shorter if your weaving includes lumps and bumps. Which is why that pompom is hiding at the bottom.

Feeling: knackered, due to the other things aforementioned. We have bitten the bullet and put the house on the market, which means we need to have photographs taken. Which means getting most of the house respectable enough not to look too much like a dump in the photographs. Our sons and their partners have been brilliant about helping us, so we’ve got on top of it, but it’s been hard work. My workroom, one bedroom and the garage are full of stuff on the way to the dump, freecycle or a charity shop, and the rest of the house is emptier than it’s ever been. One thing I’ve learned, is never to keep stuff just in case you need it in the future. Out of sight is out of mind, you forget you ever had it and if you need it again you buy another one. It’s a pity I didn’t learn that about 30 years ago.

Anticipating: carrying on even after the photographer’s been, there’s still plenty to get rid of.

Visiting: it turned into a weaving week. I wanted to see the Peter Collingwood exhibition in the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham, and we decided to make a day of it by going to the Farnham Pottery Cafe for lunch first. Lunch was delicious, and among the paintings and pottery on show there were some tiny landscape weavings. I’m afraid I didn’t make a note of the name of the weaver, but they were very delicate and an interesting contrast to what I’d done with Isabella.

I was familiar with Collingwood’s work, which is why I wanted to go to the exhibition. It’s amazingly sculptural, and I can’t pretend to understand how it’s constructed. The exhibition also includes articles from his collection of woven artefacts – 75 camel girths? – and of his scholarship. Well worth a visit if you are interested – and upstairs there are joyful, quirky works in clay and wood by Nao Matsunaga. I loved his use of colour.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Sunday Morning. It’s one of Radio 3’s more eclectic programmes, which I know drive some Radio 3 listeners wild, but which I like. Arvo Part to Sarah Vaughan, just my cup of tea.

Reading: Ellie Griffiths’ Outcast Dead. I somehow missed this one when it first came out, so as I’ve read the subsequent books in the series, I know what happens to some of the characters. A bit of a spoiler, but I don’t know who dunnit, so not too much of a problem.

Watching: BBC4’s Make! Craft Britain again. I enjoyed the cross stitch more than I expected, mostly because of the characters involved, but I still won’t be taking it up any time soon. The silver clay was inspiring but I do not need any more hobbies. I do not need any more hobbies. I do not need any more hobbies. That’s why I’m going on a weaving class on Tuesday.

Making: still socks and samplers. More of the second than the first – I was very inspired by these flower motifs in Anne Brandon Jones’ Stitch Patterns and Design for Embroidery.

Feeling: sad that our favourite craft shop/cafe, Rums Eg in Romsey, has closed down. It wasn’t unexpected, but we’ll miss it. Where else can we go for unusual presents and great scones?

Anticipating: a couple of weeks off grandparenting, though we’ll miss the little darlings. (Not so little now, Babybel is only half a head shorter than me and desperate to outgrow me!)

Visiting. No interesting visits this week, just the hairdressers and the dump.

Currently

Currently

Listening: to Holy Week Around Europe on Radio 3. I always enjoy these European co-productions, which usually combine the familiar and the less familiar.

Reading: still Difficult Daughters by Manju Kanpur. I also treated myself to a new to me embroidery book, Grete Petersen’s Borders for Embroidery. I’m trying not to buy too many new books, but as we’ve just donated 15 bagfuls to Oxfam, I think I’m allowed one or two more (I’ve got another Amazon order on the way).

I already have Peterson’s Handbook of Embroidery Stitches, co-written with Elsie Svennas, which is very good. The Borders book is not as good, in my opinion, being more a book of designs than of stitches, but there are some interesting ideas in it.

Watching: I quite enjoyed BBC4’s Make! Craft Britain, though I hate the title. Why that exclamation mark? The programme might have inspired me to have another go at rag rugging, if I hadn’t given away my hessian and most of my suitable fabric, but it reinforced my desire to try letterpress. However it isn’t really the sort of thing you can do at home. This week is cross stitch (about which I have made my opinion clear in the past), and silver clay, which I find vaguely interesting.

Making: the rainbow socks have been finished and handed over to their new owner. I forgot to take a photograph, but will try to grab one if I can. I have started a new pair, in a different shade of Superba Poem – these are for me. Yes, that toe was really knitted from that ball of wool. So far I prefer the rainbow, but we shall see how the stripes progress.

The sampler reflects the sort of week we’ve had, culminating in a boiler breakdown yesterday. I’m hoping to be able to add ‘Sunday – boiler repaired’, but the repair man is on a 25 mile drive to get a new circuit board so we won’t know if it will work till he gets back. *

Fortunately we have a gas fire and some electric heaters, but it’s amazing how much you want a bath when there’s no hot water!

Feeling: grubby. See above. A shower just isn’t the same.

Anticipating: a bath!

Visiting. We made it down to Walford Mill last week, after many postponements. The current exhibition is Threads of Narrative by Lisa Earley and Sarah Appleton. I liked the way they’d used clothes to explore ideas inspired by the Bankes Archive (the Bankes were a local family who once owned the Mill, along with Kingston Lacey and Corfe Castle). No gloves, though.

* We have a functioning boiler! We have heat! We have warmish water! Thank you, British Gas!

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Words and Music on Radio 3, always one of my favourite hours in the week.

Reading: Difficult Daughters by Manju Kanpur, who is a new author to me. I love novels about India, and this one, which focuses on women, is especially good.

Watching: not a lot, but the new BBC4 series on crafts looks like it may be interesting.

Making: I recently came across India Flint’s Bagstories. I was interested because it is an exploration of a simple Japanese bag shape, the tsunobukuro, which looks as if it would lend itself to embroidery. So yesterday, I decided to make one, as a quick sample.

It’s a simple shape and a simple process, really, but I won’t list the mistakes I made. The first was to ignore the little voice in my head that told me to make a paper mock-up first. The last was to box the corners the wrong way.

However, it is finished, and it used up a big dramatic piece of hand dye I’ve been keeping until it told me what it wanted to be. I hadn’t realised quite how big it would end up, but it’s big enough to hold my collection of small looms rescued from charity shops, replacing a tatty plastic bag.

The sampler has made steady progress too. I finished the couching/laid work sampling, and went back to the Anne Brandon Jones inspired patterns. This week’s colour scheme is analogous colours based round red-orange and I really like it.

The socks have also made progress, even though we’ve felt too tired to watch Scandinavia drama.

Feeling: much better physically, I think the flu is nearly over. The family situation isn’t, there’s still a lot of shouting going one, but it smacks of desperation.

Anticipating: it seems likely to be a snow day tomorrow. There may be some snowballing and snowman building in my future. Unfortunately. I hope there is also some toast and hot chocolate

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to a 46 year old recording of evensong from Chichester Cathedral on Radio 3. As you do.

Reading: Ellie Griffith’s Dark Angel. I love her Ruth Galloway novels, and her new one is well up to standard.

Watching: looking forward to Andrew Graham Dixon on the Art of Spain on Monday. OK, we’ve seen it twice already, but his knowledge and enthusiasm mean it hasn’t got boring yet.

Making: onto the second sock, which despite my best intentions is going to be a fraternal, not identical twin of the first.

The latest instalment of Beyond TAST is couching and laid work. I did a lot of couching when I was making my Sue Stone-inspired samples, but not much laid work. And I remembered that, just as I got to the stage with those samples when I had had enough couching, I found my copy of this 1967 book, which has lots of laid work in it. So I’ve been trying a few of those, at the bottom.

Feeling: tired, but more positive. I have a big birthday coming up this week – one of those numbers you can never envisage reaching until you get there and then you can’t quite believe it. Our younger son laid on a lunch party for us, his brother, and their partners. The children were with their mother unfortunately, but it was nice to have a quiet get together with the grown up members of the family. I will see the children on my actual birthday, so that will be nice.

Anticipating: the VHC is coming for a sleepover on Monday, while his big sister sings in a concert. I foresee quite a lot of reading of Thomas books in grandads’s future.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Rachel Podger’s choice on Radio 3. Gentle and beautiful.

Reading: Kirsty Wark’s The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, from the library. It is excellent – moving and life affirming. Just what I need at the moment.

Watching: World Track Championship cycling.

Making: the oversize cowl was finished, washed and blocked in time for the snow – (here in the Deep South it arrived later than elsewhere).

So now it’s on/back to socks. I let Wensleydale have his pick of the sock wool, but after days of overcast skies, it’s only today that we’ve realised just how bright it is. Doesn’t worry him though, and as he always wears Docs I’m probably the only one who’ll ever see them.

I’ve felt well enough to resume samplering, so some steady progress has been made. I’ve finished the fly stitch variations I tried for Beyond TAST, so I’ll be back to Anne Brandon Jones when I’ve completed these not quite accurate daffodils for St David’s Day.

Feeling: still up and down. The uncooperative family member is no longer a family member, but that hasn’t made them any more cooperative. They seem to think that the court orders which accompany the divorce don’t apply to them, despite the part at the bottom which states that failure to comply is contempt of court. We may be about to find out.

On the other hand, the flu is definitely improving, we didn’t have to go out in the snow and don’t until Monday, and it’s thawing.

Anticipating: two more sessions of cycling, today and tomorrow..