Day of Rest

….aaand I’m back from Norwich again.  And I needn’t have worried – of course!

Of course, I had prepared plenty.  The talk went well, and I think everyone had a great time on the workshop.  One lady has a passion for linen, and luckily I’d taken a dressed flax distaff with me.  We were able to get her spinning flax from the distaff, on her spindle.  It made my day – my entire week!

It was an exhausting weekend, though; I didn’t get back to my B&B (which was truly awesome – highly recommended!) until gone 10 on Friday night – at which point, I ate dinner.  Of course, I was way too hopped up on adrenaline to go to sleep for over an hour, so I was very late to bed (by my usual standards) – I’m no night owl.  And that was day one!

Oh – you remember how I blithely said, “…I know that J and the houndies will be just fine at home without me: I’m only away overnight, for heaven’s sake!”  Yeah.  talk about tempting fate.  Someone managed to slip over and fracture their elbow whilst I was away.  Which is a bit spooky, because the thing I learned this weekend was that an ell is the distance from a man’s shoulder to his wrist – so called because ell is the Old English word for arm – and the elbow is called the elbow because it is where the ell bows, or bends.  Weird, huh?

Anyway, today has been quiet beyond belief.  Both of us slept in, then had a very late fry-up breakfast at around half 10.  Lunch, at around two, consisted of the lazyman’s choice – leftover Chinese takeaway (you didn’t think either of us was up to cooking after yesterday, did you?!) – and then we retired for a nap which took most of the rest of the afternoon.

I have managed to fit in a bit more knitting, though: the mystery project (Working title:Magrat) is about one hour’s worth of knitting, and a good blocking, away from completion.  I’m looking forwards to blocking this so much – but I have to say I love the look of the fabric unblocked, too, both the right side:

And the wrong side:

Sorry about the weird yellow tint: The day of rest includes not messing around with lights or Lightroom.  It also includes an early night – so see you on the other side!

Finding my feet

The astute (or terminally bored) may have noticed that there haven’t been many updates around here recently – about as many in the last month as I usually manage in a week or so.  This has to change.

I’m having a blast.  An absolute whale of a time, let me tell you!  But it turns out that sitting at a desk for eight or so hours a day automatically provides time for blog posts to be written in, even if that’s not your primary paid work.  Dyeing wool doesn’t.  So I need to make time to write the posts in, and be clear that writing a post is what I’m supposed to be doing in that time – it’s not goofing off, it’s Very Important.  (But then, so is everything else)

I’m not going to set a schedule – at least, not publically.  Experience has taught me that that is a good way to fail.  And I intentionally posted about spinning yesterday because I didn’t want to come back yet again with another “sorry I haven’t been around” post – I have written my share of those already.

So, with any luck, you can expect to see updates here in the near future about knitting (there has been some!), spinning (will I ever stop?!), weaving (the scarf is off the loom!), gardening (strawberries are ripe!!) and dogs.

Oh, how could we forget the dogs.

Mindfulness is *hard*!

I found this verbal doodle whilst culling forgotten drafts posts over the weekend.  I wrote it, and posted it as a comment, just over two years ago, in March 2009, in response to this post on Stacey’s blog.  I think I intended to expand the original comment into a blog entry, but I clearly never did.  I enjoyed reading it again when I found it – so maybe others will, too.

Incidentally, I’d forgotten all about my attempts to maintain mindfulness.  I think it’s something I should get back to.


Recently, I’ve been attempting to practise mindfulness/attentiveness on a daily basis.  It’s hard!  And utterly revelatory, too.  Rather than stomping along, firmly plugged into the other world of my iPod, I’ve been trying to see what is next to my feet, hear what is going on in the ‘real space’ around me whilst on my lunchtime walks, or in the morning with the hounds.

To see with the intensity of a child’s vision; to hear with the clarity of one just awoken; noticing the detail in the utterly mundane as if you’ve never seen it before.  The concentration required to do this is immense!  I can hardly maintain it for more than a minute or so before my mind wanders off: the conversation that could have gone better this morning; the unfeasible deadline; plans for dinner.

But when I do maintain it, oh boy!

I’ve been noticing patterns in tarmac, in walls, in wooden fences.  Smells of the earth, sounds of birds.  Great bursts of joy on seeing a blackthorn starting to bloom.  And all this just on the fringes of a business park!

I’ve been experiencing the most intense flashbacks to childhood moments; possibly the last time in my life I allowed myself to just experience.  Not examine, or evaluate, or judge.  Subsuming the scientist, and remaining unselfconscious, has been a real exercise, along the lines of “don’t think of a pink rhinoceros”.

But not only have I enjoyed it, I think it is good for me on a more practical level.  No longer do I fight to remember whether I’ve shut the windows/locked the doors/filled the water bowl/sorted the house out/picked up my lunch, keys, phone, wallet when I leave the house in the morning; I’m already aware that I’ve done it.  Well, maybe I’m not quite there yet, but that list feels cleaner, less cluttered, and consequently shorter in my head.  And I’m sure this practice is the cause.

Chipping away

There has been so much going on in my little corner of the world, I haven’t had time to write about it!  Since Textiles In Focus, I’ve been to two craft fairs, been booked for a teaching gig in Norwich, at least one more craft fair and a demonstration day at Anglesey Abbey to boot, been over to Bury St. Edmunds to sell some of my yarns to Wibbling Wools, hosted J’s Mum for a long weekend of socialising and sightseeing, applied for two major shows, booked a nice man in to take down the Evil Laylandii in the garden and replace them with a fence, met up with Geodyne, back from the antipodes (briefly), and had gastroenteritis (not recommended).  And there’s more!  That’s just the highlights.

(The dogs still know how to relax, though.)

Of course, planting season in the garden should be in full swing, but with a few exceptions, I’m barely getting started.  I *have* managed to water the ground with nematodes, though.  I’m hoping to keep the slug and snail population down to a reasonably low level this year, and thereby increase the yield of some of our crops.

I am spinning every day this week, as part of a challenge on one of the Ravelry groups I belong to.  I really want to restart my practice of spinning for 15 minutes in the morning, before work; it sets me up for the day far better than anything else I have tried, and yet I so often skip it, because I ‘don’t have time’.  I’m hoping to finish the singles for the Shipwreck shawl; I have one bobbin (about 60g worth) of the blue spun up, and I’m well under way with the grey.  These two fibres, despite both being Corriedale, feel so different to spin that it will be interesting to see how they ply together.

Also….  I hope to have a great, big, huge announcement to share in the next few days (not a baby, no).  I’m so excited, but I don’t want to jinx it, so… later!


I’ve been in a quiet mood the last few days – and who couldn’t be, with the news that has been flooding in from across the globe?

Everything I have wanted to write has seemed hollow.  There are no words – none at all – to describe the loss of thousands of people, the loss of home and habitat and livelihood.

I’ve been awaiting news that two dear friends have managed to travel safely home, both passing through Japan on their respective journeys; I know at least one has arrived, and the other is most likely just frustrated and delayed, since I know she had managed to re-arrange her flights to avoid the worst affected areas.

How can I talk about the plans for my tiny wee business at a time like this? (I have some.)  How can I wax lyrical about shop updates?  (There has been one).

Instead, I have given, and I sit, and I spin.  And I think, wish and hope.

Things I might have too much of

I spent an hour or so tidying/organising the shed today.  In the process, I discovered a possible overabundance of:

  • raw sheep’s fleece;
  • raw alpaca fibre;
  • empty beer bottles;
  • seeds.

All the above usually fit into the general category of, “Can one ever really have too much?”, but I’m starting to think that the answer can legitimately be, “Yes, for a given amount of storage space.”

There is, of course, a simple answer for the beer bottles: Brew More Beer.  And there’s also a good reason for the seeds.  When Geodyne returned to the antipodes, she left me a huge selection of seeds to add to my own.  I think I now have more than 15 varieties of tomato seed to hand, at least 20 varieties of sweet and/or hot peppers, 5 or more varieties of spinach, and I didn’t even count the number of turnips, radishes, oriental greens or squashes.  And at least seeds don’t take up much storage space.

The fibre, though, may be starting to become a problem.  I bought about 13 alpaca blankets last year.  Yes, really.  Though I’m hoping that some of that fibre will be processed and available for sale later this year.

As for the sheep’s fleece, that’s all supposed to be for me.  I’ve taken to naming the fleeces, for ease of reference, and so far I have:

Eight – possibly nine – of them, plus a few bits and that are elsewhere in the house.  Given that I’ve not yet managed to process a whole fleece myself, there may be a lack-of-reality issue around here somewhere.

(Though I did chuck a bag labelled, “Burwash, legs, felted” onto the compost heap today.  Really.  Why was I keeping that?)

Dipping a toe into the new year

It seems to be something of a habit of mine, posting near the winter solstice, then disappearing until sometime in the first week of January.

Christmas - our tree in the corner

Of course, I have a million things to tell you, a thousand half-written blog posts, thoughts aplenty fizzing in my brain.

Success! Second scarf finished for Christmas

There has been a lot of looking back/looking forwards in the blogosphere – and the world in general – recently.  Unsurprising.

Last year, I made vague goals, but I don’t think they worked as well for me as concrete ones.  This year, my thoughts are still vague, but I want to pin them down in a more concrete form at some point.  Themes include:

  • making a life that fits me;
  • joining in;
  • making space;
  • following my inspiration;
  • feeling the joy.
Quiet joy; Woody snoozing

I’m aware that if I let the blog drift much longer, these thoughts will become stale, so this is me, dipping a toe into the new year, looking forwards, and looking back.

December 30th; Whitby at dusk

(One thing I’m not doing is numbering my posts any more.  I’ve done it for two years running, and it’s a hassle).

97) Re-entry – and happy solstice!

England is frozen solid again, for the longest night of the year.

Our kitchen is all fitted and finished, with a minimum of fuss, but the fridges are still living in the dining room whilst we wait for the paint on the skirting boards to dry.

I have finished the simple socks, and have started weaving a scarf for one of my brothers (for Christmas, ahem).

But I haven’t taken any photos of them.  Nor have I photographed the finished Peacock Feathers shawl.

I have been unable to resist taking photos of snow-and-frost pictures, though.  I can’t get enough of the muted colours, or the incredible detail shown up by the crystalline outlines.

(Probably not much good for catching dinner any more, but damn pretty).

Stay warm, celebrate the turning of the year, and have a wonderful Christmas.  Regular posts will, I hope, resume shortly.

94) Hoarfrost

As I was driving home from work last night, a fog descended.  It was already bitterly cold.  Perfect ingredients for hoar frost!

And the world was still iced to perfection by the time I was driving in to the office today, just after noon.  I adore hoarfrost, and I’ve never seen so much of it in this part of the UK before.  It creates an effect that is even more picture-perfect-Christmas-card than snowfall.  Each branch, twig, leaf, cobweb is traced in clusters of needle-fine ice crystals, so that hedges sparkle and trees look like giant candyfloss clouds, reaching towards the sky.

I often wish my windscreen was a giant CCD, so I could capture the view as I drive, and never more so than today.  I drove to work in a state of awe and amazement, my mouth hanging open, wishing I could linger on the A14 (which was uncharacteristically free-flowing) to dwell on the incredible, transient beauty of the winter landscape.

All I managed to snap, though, were these few images – taken of the shrubbery in the work car park.

73) General update: the Very Bad Photos edition

Well.  My phone was fine for five days or so, then I started getting SIM card errors.  On boot up, or randomly in the middle of a conversation.  I made a not-very-convincing investigation into possible fixes, and then leapt with unseemly haste towards my local iPhone vendor.

I am starting to love the thing, but also feel that I should be doing absolutely everything with it.  I've been taking photos sporadically during the week, but it's taken me until today to get the things off the phone and onto my computer so I can document what I've been doing.  Unfortunately, I'm not yet impressed with the iPhone camera.  So!

Spinning:  This is the start of the yarn for Sandi Wisehart's Sweater KAL (available on Ravelry). I'm definitely very behind on this, as lots of people have knit up to the armholes already.  It took me a while to get the right sort of thickness for the singles – I want a DK weight 3 ply, and my fingers are now used to ultra-fine-laceweight – but I think I've got the hang of it now.


The photo is sort of hazy and blue.  I know why this was – something was occluding the flash and flaring it onto the lens.

Dogs:  Woody doesn't approve of the current cold snap in the weather.  However, if it means he gets extra sofa time, and a blanket, he's prepared to live with it.


He would like to point out he's not quite that yellow in real life, though.

Fibre acquisition: I bought this little lot from SpinGirl's destash – and one of the dogs (I suspect Kita) killed it as soon as it entered the house:

009 It isn't actually too badly damaged, and I was thinking of carding it anyway, so I'll let her off this time.  The exposure on this photo is about right, but it's much more pink in reality.

Then, I recently passed J's Nan's old sewing machine to a member of the Cambridge KTog knitting group – and in thanks, she gave me this lovely fibre!


It's not really that dark.  Let's try again:


Hmm.  Not a lot better.  The fibre – which is Corriedale – is lovely, though.  And has inspired…

A bit of fibre dyeing!  This is also Corriedale, and has dyed up to a lovely stormy grey.  This is the first time I've dyed Corriedale, and I'm impressed with how well it stands up to the process (read: no felty bits, even in this dark shade):


Exposure and colour: not too bad.  Focus: bah.

I have more very bad iPhone photographs to share with you, but I'll save them for another post.  I'll be trying a few more times, see if I can get a consistently good acceptable photograph with the New Technology, but it might be back to my old camera if the learning curve is too steep.