An elegant sufficiency

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Knitting Olympics Medal Ceremony

Well, there we are, the Yarn Harlot has announced the closing ceremony for the Knitting Olympics and Franklin has designed the medal, which comes in just the one variety - gold. In the end, over 4000 knitters took part, in teams from all over the world. Quite incredible! Team GB did some wonderful work and much fun was had all round.

Certificates were issued too! Wow!

Time on my hands!

I have one of those unusual days today when I have time for me. Time to do the things I want to do rather than those things I have to do! Very precious.

I've offered to do a simple jewellery making workshop for a group of women in a couple of weeks time and so went down to look through my books for inspiration and ideas. Whilst there, I came across a book given to me at Christmas by dear Kiwi friends Fiona and Wayne and realised that, although I had read it from cover to cover when I first had it, what a great book it is!

Every Kete Tells a Story is about the little traditional Maori baskets woven by women, and there's a story with each about how they were made, where they were used and so on, along with a close up photo of the design and a great photo of the maker or present owner, which somehow brings the whole thing to life.

It reminded me of someone who did a textile project about handkerchiefs and the tales they could tell. I'm not generally interested in history, but I do like to learn about people and the lives they led and think these small items of such a personal nature reveal much about the people who made, used and enjoyed them.

Giving up on these tulips!

...though I still find them attractive in a funny way. This bunch did not droop or do the contortions tulips usually do. They simply went a little crisp and dropped the petals. Never mind.

This is another of the Picasa collage options btw.
 Posted by Picasa

Playing with Picasa

I love Dijanne's photo collages she's been uploading from her travels and shamelessly investigated how she did it. I often find myself with a bunch of pictures to upload and this seemed to be the ideal answer.

Above, a collage of the stall selling the sari yarn in the market in Nelson, New Zealand, last year. I will admit that the two hanks I bought are still intact.
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Friday, February 24, 2006


As it happens, I didn't choose a very good bunch of tulips to record, since these creamy ones simply grow taller and show no sign of drooping at all.

I heard a flower arranger say once that tulips are the only flowers which continue to grow after they have been cut. Comparing this photograph with the first one I took last week, I see how much longer the stems are now - the flower heads are well above the leaves.

But droop? Not this bunch of soldiers!

Talented Friends

I am always aware of the immense talent I surround myself with when I count my friends, both on- and offline. Today I found a "new" talented friend - or rather, I was delighted to find out something I didn't know about her.

Jordi and I met Lisa Daehlin at the NYC SnB last summer, when we met in a very hot, sticky cellar one Tuesday evening. We chatted and I have noticed the occasional message from her on the NYC SnB mail list. Today, Lisa posted a message about some knitting classes she offers, adding a link to one of her designs; coincidentally, the lace wrap I am currently knitting and feeling very pleased with.

Nice work, Lisa. Thank you!

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Last night, I knit until I finished the wristlets. Yay!!! Done. Fanny's birthday today, so quickly wrapped them up and wrote her birthday card ready for Mark to deliver this morning on his way to a meeting.

Happy Birthday Fanny. Hope you love your wristlets!

Only just now, do I realise that I forgot to photograph them before I gave them away. Oh b.......bother!

In London for a day

Had "business" in London yesterday. Can't say where, with whom, or what about yet, but the organic biscuits were delicious.

As I walked down Bond Street, I passed this statue of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. I always admire it for the characters it portrays so well, but seldom do the two gentlemen have the seat to themselves - there is usually a tourist of some kind sitting in the middle. Yesterday morning, however, they were able to chat face to face, and I was pleased to take their photograph.

Over in Great Marlborough Street, I finally got to take a photograph of the art deco facade I've meant to have a close look at for ages, having seen it in a book but never noticed it whilst walking past. Of course, my eyes are normally fixed on Liberty's window! But look up above the Caffe Uno shopfront and a beautiful architectural feature is revealed.

Finally, standing in a doorway in Jermyn Street, having come out of the back door of Waterstones bookshop, I stood in the doorway of a shirtmakers to put up my umbrella and spotted these two sights (sites), which stand next door to one another. I thought the contrast so great that it was worthy of (two) photographs! With hindsight, I should have taken one of the join as well.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The tulips progress

Monday morning and the sun has just struggled through some pretty dense cloud, so I rushed to take today's tulip picture.

Had been to Swindon and back before 9am and had hoped to get a great deal done today.

Note the phrasing "had hoped".

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Just another concert

We set out a bit earlier than usual for Birmingham yesterday afternoon, to allow time for a bite to eat in Bank before the concert. Whilst waiting for our table, who should come in but friend, textile artist/embroiderer and WI colleague, Lesley Wilson, wearing the wrap she'd begun to knit whilst we co-chaired at Denman College last summer. Wonderful!

I suppose that not every concert can be a great concert. Last night's was fine, but not quite as memorable as others. Anne Sofie von Otter was "indisposed" but I'm not sure that even she could have redeemed Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" for us.

Walking back to the car park following the concert, however, we thought how attractive the canal looked, with the reflections of the bridge in the water.
This part of Birmingham is really buzzing, and at 10pm is really only just coming to life!

...but I never realised they could be scented

Further to my post about tulips yesterday, I notice that the bunch I have at the moment have a distinct fragrance. Have never noticed this before! They are still standing upright but have opened slightly.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I love tulips

At this time of the year I love to have a vase of tulips in the house. They are the only flowers I love for the whole of their time in the vase - from the minute they are taken from the wrapping, all tight in bud, crisp and fresh until their very last straggly droopy day before they go. (Didn't the chap in Calendar Girls say this too? I need to check the DVD!) I think this week's bunch of tulips are particularly lovely and the markings on the petals quite remarkable.

I have intended, for some time, to take a daily photograph of a vase of tulips, to record every stage of their progress, from fresh-in to throw-out.

This seems like a good bunch to feature.

Friday, February 17, 2006

One done...

One wristlet is finished! Yay!!
I really feel that my progress on this small, insignificant project has been quite pathetic and I think I could have done better. Never mind, I have learned plenty, which is what it's all about.
Whilst I have knitted just one of the pair, look what someone else has done!
I am in awe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Fun with friends

What fun we had in Cirencester today! It was half term, so Maggie, Sue and I got together for a gossip and a bit of a mooch around. Met up in Brewery Arts for coffee, before exploring the delights of The Coln Gallery, where the pigments needed to be visited, oohed and aaahed over, and recorded for the benefit of our friends who appreciate such things.

We made it back to Brewery Arts for a spot of lunch, more chatter and photographs. Maggie and Sue looked so good against the beautifully painted mirror on the wall behind them.

But a method was soon found to make sure all three of us were in the picture eventually. The photograph does not reveal the bemused expression on the faces of those around us, as we tried several times to capture the moment. This one is the best of five or six I took. Sue will post her version on her blog (to be announced shortly)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Just read a post from fellow Loose Ender Les, about a conversation she had about the potential of fishbones in our art.

Reminded me of a great brooch I have, by an artist whose name I have forgotten, who died shortly after I acquired it. It is very well presented, on a block of acrylic, meaning that when I'm not wearing it I can enjoy it as a piece of art in itself.

In fact, I very seldom wear it.
I should wear it more often.
I will wear it tomorrow, in fact!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Knitting Olympics - Day Three

Still only out in daylight, though I've moved on - temporarily - from the dreaded fuzz and onto something more sensible. Today I knit the bottom layer of ruffle and joined it together with the fuzzy top layer.
In view of some comments likening my little masterpiece to a grub of some kind (thanks Paulene!) today's photo shows the ruffle being elegantly modelled. The picture does not reveal the beautiful work put in today, since that is a second, unseen layer beneath the fluffy one. You'll just have to believe it's there...and you do, don't you?

I realise that I have strayed from the pattern...but of course, it WAS deliberate ;-)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Knitting Olympics Day Two - Anti-Vampire Knitting

I think I have discovered the key to black Kidsilk Haze success - knit only in the hours of daylight. (hmmm, another challenge - guess when I usually knit?)

This morning I have completed the first ruffle on the first wristlet. OK - not much, I know, but at least it's OK and I didn't have to rip any out! Not only that, but during the day, I can see clearly enough to manage without the stitch markers.

That's progress IMHO!

Another beautiful day dawns

7.30am in Gloucestershire, the start of another fun packed day!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Knitting Olympics Day One

OK, so I'm the Eddie the Eagle of Team GB - or so Mark says. I deliberately set my bar pretty low, because I knew I had a busy couple of weeks coming up, and I really wanted to knit the wristlets for a friend's birthday on the 23rd. But I chose black. Black Kidsilk haze. Ugh!

I began as the opening ceremony started. Progress so far? I have threaded beads twice. First time onto the wrong yarn, and in transferring them to the correct yarn, I dropped them. Finally threaded onto the correct yarn (the Kidsilk Haze) and all was well. Until I cast on. First time round, I'd twisted the stitches - the yarn is horrid to knit with at the best of times, but in black...dreadful! Second time I miscounted. Third time, I couldn't bear to miscount, so I have stitch counters every 12 stitches. Pathetic, eh?

Three rows complete.

(I imagine others will have knit half a shawl by now, for after all, the opening ceremony is very nearly over)

A(nother) Grand Day Out

We decided to act upon my suggestion to rediscover Bristol today, as the weather was fine and sunny and perfect for a day out. Had an interesting time walking around and being a home-based "tourist". Lunch in Wagamama was good too!

After lunch we explored the cathedral and I was particularly taken by how the light struck this small painted motif at the base of an otherwise plain column.

We stood for a while reading the memorials to the great and the good which covered the walls. Many were over sentimental and gushing about the person in question; I wonder what Edward Riley would have thought of this:

Edward Riley Esq

died March 3rd 1828 aged 83

Warm and affectionate in his disposition

Gentle and conciliating in his manners

Religious without bigotry


Charitable without ostentation

his every action

during a long life

presented but a continued and uninterrupted series of pure and active benevolence

He was loved and honored in life and in death he is lamented

Filial piety

erects this simple memorial

as a just but humble tribute to the high moral worth of one of the mildest and kindest

of human beings

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Silk painting and bin bags

Tonight I'm going to speak to a WI and do a silk painting demo which I call "Paint a scarf tonight, wear it tomorrow". (I recently came across a similarly themed dem entitled "Paint a scarf whilst your buns are in the oven" but didn't think that gave quite the right impression for these ladies!) The idea is that, it's mindless enough for me to witter away as I paint, there is guaranteed success because there is no skill involved, and they get a raffle prize in the form of the finished scarf. It usually tempts a few to go and buy a few silk paints and have a go themselves.

But a surprisingly large number of people no longer get bin bags because they have Wheely-Bins. Who'd have thought that a council decision such as that could sound the death knell for my demo? (Well, of course, they could go and buy a bin bag...but somehow, it's not quite the same.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


We've been having a conversation on a mail list about "nesting" and the need to have everything to hand "just in case". Well, today, that need was justified.

I had been scheduled to observe two classes and set off this morning through dreadful traffic to arrive fifteen minutes early for the first one. Almost there and I get a call to say the tutor is ill and the class is cancelled. It really wasn't worth heading home again, since I had the second class to observe this afternoon in the same area, so quick decision re what to do/where to go.

Answer: Symonds Yat.

It was a glorious day, clear and sunny, and the views were magnificent. OK, I wasn't quite dressed for the great outdoors, but so what - I enjoyed some fresh air and spent a happy hour or so there. Of course, the nesting instinct meant that I had knitting, book, ipod, flask of coffee, sandwiches etc. to hand and was perfectly self-sufficient!

Trouble was, the car park was away from the view, a little empty and I felt I was being watched with suspicion by the other couple there. They were surely questioning why this smartly-dressed woman was hanging around the car park?!

So, I headed off through the Forest of Dean to Speech House, and Beechenhurst Forest picnic site, where I ate my lunch, knit a few inches of my alpaca-silk wrap, and listened to a podcast. (Can't bear You and Yours!)

Really quite a blow then, to have to do some work this afternoon when I heard that this particular tutor was working as normal!!

Two more photographs from NYC today, this time taken at a "costume jewellers" on 6th Avenue. Yes, of course I bought some!!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Day at the Office

Well, hardly...but I suppose it's my equivalent. I spent the whole day training tutors to use "new technology". Your know the kind of thing - wires everywhere, half of it behaving nicely, the other half being temperamental. Oh well, maybe some were converted. Hope so.

Anyway, next in the series of yarn shops. This time to Purl, again in NYC, taken on the same day as the previous entry. Beautifully arranged and very helpful staff. Nice store.

Whilst there, I bought a scarf pin - the kind of doughnut shape with a stick across to hold a loosely woven scarf in place. This one was (note the past tense) greenish stone, and went perfectly with a couple of my favourite scarves. Yesterday I dropped it. Fool that I am, I pulled the pin and failed to hang onto the doughnut bit...and it crashed to the floor and broke into several pieces. Huh. Not a happy bunny about that.

So, nothing creative today, and unlikely to be tomorrow, when I'm out observing classes - a life class and an interior design class in a local college. Might be interesting.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Simple stuff

After a busy day full of meetings and stuff, with hardly a break to grab a cup of tea, let alone do anything creative, I thought that it would be reassuring to continue my series of photographs of yarn shops! Above is a picture of The Point, NYC, taken whilst there last August, and site of a Loose End meeting - you can just about spot Jordi in the background.

I did a couple of creative things yesterday in preparing for a short evening workshop for a local WI - they fancied making a book. I'm going to get them making envelope books, suitable for giving as presents, holding coupons for their supermarket jaunt, keeping colour swatches for dressmaking or decorating or for holding holiday souvenirs. You can see three of my samples below

The books are simple, made from an even number of envelopes (could recycle those prepaid ones which come with junk mail but I used new ones). Each flap sticks to the next envelope, so there's no sewing or glueing (lick'n'stick'!) the bundle of envelope "pages" get stuck (with a strip of double sided tape) into a cover made from an old magazine or calendar page which is cut large enough to have a flap to fold over to keep it closed. Might splash out on some Velcro stickies for them...or a bit of magnetic sheet.

It's such a short session - less than an hour - and they won't have anything with them, so it has to be simple and controllable. In addition, it's a general meeting rather than a class they've chosen to come along to, so there has to be guaranteed success for all!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A Grand Day Out

Had fun today with friend Sue K at the Get Knitted warehouse in Bristol. A good job she knew her way around, for I'd have got hopelessly lost trying to find it, tucked away in an industrial estate.

Who should we see as we stepped inside, but Wendy from ThreadEnds! We'd not met before, but somehow the old magic worked and Sue recognised her instantly - not that the clue of the amazing recycled knitted bag, or the glorious hat and scarf she was wearing didn't help! The place was quite full and at times it was hard to get to the corner that surely contained the very yarn we'd been looking for, but all was good natured and sunny and rather fun.

Sue's haul
We each left with quite a haul...beautiful hand dyes and patterns for lace knitting, plain and dyed alpaca for socks and a "smoke ring", a pair of Lantern Moon needles, Opal sock yarn and some fresh green Debbie Bliss Alpaca silk for the Vogue magazine wrap I mentioned previously.
(I haven't posted a link to the Debbie Bliss site because it's one of those which, once you're there, traps you and doesn't let you go back. Am I the only one who resents that?)

Gill's haul

Sue's suggestion of the re-opened Arnolfini was great for lunch and reminded me that we need to walk around this part of Bristol and have a closer look sometime soon.

The exhibition at the Arnolfini was interesting, though we did draw the line at lying flat on our backs to experience a light show on the ceiling of a darkened room! Last stop was the bookshop, where we admired a copy of Sophie Calle's beautifully bound "Exquisite Pain", the book I first saw whilst in NYC with Jordi last summer. I picked up a flyer for a couple of performances of the work next month and though I am tempted by the idea, I am not sure
I would find it easy viewing.

And yes, I know theatre does not always have to be comfortable or easy!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Making a list

Tomorrow I'm meeting Sue K and we're off to the Get Knitted open day in Bristol - for which I'll need a list. So far, I need to look at what Addi needles I'd like to add to my collection, want to look at Cherry Tree Hill Yarns as recommended by Jordi, and see what Lornas Laces are like. I also want to get hold of the pattern for the Heartstrings "Flared Lace Smoke Ring" which I rather fancy. No doubt I will take the opportunity to find an interesting yarn to knit the wrap (#24) in the Holiday 2005 Vogue knitting magazine.

Those are my intentions. Let's see what reality brings at confession time tomorrow evening!

Thought I'd illustrate this entry with pictures I took on my last knitting shop expedition, to Colinette in Wales.