Listening: to Sunday Morning on Radio 3.

Reading: Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling. As usual with Bryson I’m amused and irritated in turns but it’s still a good read – the review in the link says it all.

Watching: The Bridge. Of course.

Making: still socks, but I’m sure you’re bored with photos of those.

Also the sampler, and Creative Sprinting.

And just for a change, some books. These are from instructions on Ali Mannings’ informative blog

and these from a book called How to Fold which is not, whatever the title suggests, about origami.

Feeling: almost cheerful. The boiler is fixed, the chair seats have gone to be recaned, and we’ve had an offer we can’t refuse on the house. With no chain! Those who have sold houses know what a blessing that is. I’m dreading actually moving, but we have to do it sooner or later, so probably better now than when we’re even older.

Visiting: we managed to fit in our trip to Walford Mill, as we hoped. They have rearranged the interior, which has resulted in less exhibition space and more shop space, presumably for financial reasons, but I regret it. There was some interesting weaving by Jacy Wall, and the usual tempting ceramics.

Anticipating: another trip to two interesting looking exhibitions in Southampton – George Shaw at the Art Gallery and Gerhard Richter at the new incarnation of the John Hansard Gallery. I expect we will also manage to fit in lunch at the Art House Cafe.




Listening: to Choral Evensong on Radio 3.

Reading: I finished Iain M Banks’ The Player of Games last night – couldn’t go to bed till I had done so. I was surprised to realise that it was 30 years old. It hasn’t dated much, unlike Asimov’s Foundation series. The second time I read those, I found the sexism intensely irritating. Now I’ve moved on to Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling, which is as entertaining as all the other Bryson books I’ve read.

Watching: The Bridge. Of course.

Making: no cycling, and only one hour of subtitle reading, leads to less knitting, especially with a heel to turn.

Bet you’re bored with pictures of socks.

The same is true for samplers.

However, not sitting in front of the TV for several hours does encourage Creative Sprinting, and working in sketch books, although I’m not going to show you the outcome of that!

Feeling: hassled. The gas boiler saga continues. It started to make a strange noise, so the gas man came again. He fixed the strange noise – it was, as Wensleydale thought, the fan. But then he found a problem with the whatsit which regulates the gas supply. So he’s coming back on Thursday to fix that. Fortunately it is working, and the weather is warmer anyway. Plus, although we’ve put the house sale on the back burner for a while – house prices are apparently falling, so we’ve missed the peak anyway – we’ve decided to carry on with the Swedish death cleaning. And we’ve got some chairs we need to take for repairs. But I do want to get out for a trip, so it’s going to be a busy week.

Anticipating: that trip, down to Walford Mill, before the current exhibition closes. We’ve been intending to go for a while, but life kept getting in the way.



Listening: to the clock ticking

Reading: Iain M Banks’ The Player of Games. I thought I’d read all of Iain M and most of Iain Banks’ novels, plus the very excellent Raw Spirit, but apparently not.

Watching: Le Tour de Yorkshire. Of course.

Making: watching hours of cycling leads to lots of sock knitting. You can see how much progress has been made in the before and after sock photos above.

There’s been a fair amount of progress on the sampler too, although it gets put down when the coverage changes from something you can just listen to, to something you must watch.

I’m doing Creative Sprint again this month – hence this eclectic mixture of images. It always takes me out of my comfort zone.

Feeling: up and down. We are trying to decide what to do about selling the house – not so much second thoughts as maybe wait a while.

Anticipating: the last day of Le Tour. This afternoon it passes through the area we know best, so it will be more watching than listening. I anticipate finishing that sock.

Visiting: we went to Mottisfont to see the Womens’ Hour Craft Exhibition, which is excellent, although it did make me question the use of the word ‘craft’, (not for the first time). I gather from a conversation with one of the volunteers that it is not quite what some people had been expecting – not many of what a friend of mine calls ‘nice little pots’, though there were plenty of less conventional ceramics.



Listening: to Radio 3, The Early Music Show.

Reading: I finished Death Comes to Pemberley. The denouement was not unexpected. I’ve now moved on to Stella Rimington’s Present Danger which is much more to my taste. I have no idea how much relationship events in Rimington’s novels bear to the workings of the real MI5 but they are a good read.

Watching: Alice Roberts on Norwich and Tony Robinson on Durham Cathedral. There was a little bit of slow motion presenting by Alice Roberts, but both are mostly watchable, ungimicky documentaries from which I learn things.

Making: as you can see, the second pair of fingerless gloves I started have morphed into a pair of socks. No, I didn’t finish the gloves. The are currently on time out while I decide what to do with them.

Not much progress on the sampler, mostly because I hate this colour combination. I’m working my way round the colour wheel, trying various colour theory based combinations and I am coming to the conclusion that I don’t like split complementaries.

Feeling: less sniffly. I bought some over the counter anti-histamines which have definitely helped, provided I don’t go outside too much.

Anticipating: I will never say that we are anticipating a normal week again, after last week. We have a monthly bill which was due on Monday. It is, fortunately, the only one we pay through internet banking. We have a TSB account. You can see the problem here. So rather than struggle to pay it on line, we withdrew the money from a cash machine, and went across the road to pay it into the account of the person we owe the money to. Only to be told that they no longer take cash payments into other people’s bank accounts, in case it is money laundering. Fortunately we could hand the cash over in person, but I’m glad it was the only bill we pay that way.

So I am anticipating a more normal week – or at least one with fewer hassles.


Listening: to Radio 3, as usual.

Reading: Death comes to Pemberly, by P.D. James. I avoid Austen follow-up novels because in my experience they are usually bad, so I ignored this when it first came out. But I was caught out by an unexpected wait with nothing to read and found it in a nearby charity shop. The reviews on the cover were good, so I bought it.

I think the reviewers must have been reading a different novel. I feel James’ writing lacks Austen’s humour and lightness of touch. There are far too many speeches in which one character explains to another, pedantically and at great length, what the other person would have known anyway – in fact far too much exposition of all sorts. Austen knew what she was doing, limiting the number of characters, and restricting descriptions to her characters’ thoughts rather than their hairstyles or means of transport.

Watching: Alice Robert’s programme on Winchester, which in contrast, was much better than I expected. So many documentaries these days jump from one topic to another, and then back again, in a desperate, and in my case, often unsuccessful, attempt to stop the viewer turning off. In this case we got a straightforward, accessible, chronological account, which told me things I didn’t know already, which is why I watch documentaries.

Making: as you can see, the fingerless gloves I started have morphed into a different pair of fingerless gloves. The other pattern turned out to be too big, but the thumb hole was too small, and I decided I didn’t have enough wool. I think these may be too small, but I can probably find some willing victim to give them to.

The sampler has had a rude word added, and a lot of whipped running stitch. The current instalment of Beyond TAST is layering stitches. I’m not sure if what I’ve done counts as layering, but I took the opportunity to try out ‘imitation tablet weaving’ from Jan Messent’s book ‘Celtic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon Embroidery’. I.e. closely packed rows of whipped running stitch.

Feeling: sniffly. I seem, after seven decades without it, to have hay fever. I’ve had a slight sensitivity to house dust for years, but that’s not like this continuous sneezing, and nose dribbling. And it’s not a cold, because the symptoms don’t change, and they get worse if I go outside. Wensleydale is the hay fever expert around here, and he confirms my self diagnosis. It’s a bit better today – I think the 3 thunderstorms we had last night may have helped – but I’d be happier without it.

Anticipating: we may, just possibly, provided nothing goes wrong, have a ‘normal’ week next week. Apart from taking the VHC to the dentist. I have grandchildren who regard going to the dentist as a big treat, which is, of course down to the dentist, who is very good with them.



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.



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.