Monday, 23 June 2008

M is for...


(Actually, just under, but that doesn't
make such a snappy heading...)

I bought some skeins of wool.*
They were pretty. I was in love.
They were smooshable. I was in heaven.
Then I tried to ball them. I was confused.
They tangled. I was annoyed

Yep, the lot of a newbie skein buyer. What do I do? Obviously, trying to ball straight from the skein was a no-no. Actually, not so obvious at first: I believe there is a tangled mess lurking somewhere in a corner of my apartment, hoping never to be noticed again. I tried using my knees for a holder. Well, it worked, but my back refuses to let me try that method again. So I swallowed my pride and asked for help and received lots of ideas and no 'Hah! n00bie-have-you-not-heard-of-swifts'-like taunts! Yay.

No.1 was to use a lampshade: unscrew the thingy that stops the lampshade from spinning, whang on the skein and Bob's your mother's brother. Sadly I own no large lamp-shaded, um, lamps. (Moral to No.1 - Life is not complete without a lamp-shaded reducer-of-shadows of the large variety.)

No.2 was to use a spinny, spinny chair. I haz a spinny, spinny chair and so rushed off to attempt to gently rest a skein where it would have most spinny, spinny fun and watched, non-plussed, as the skein slipped from its perch and wound itself around the base of the chair. I did, however, manage to ball one skein before the chair decided it didn't want to play anymore... (Moral to No.2 - spinny, spinny chair only good for wheeching** around in a spinny, spinny way while typing at the computer.)

No.3 was to use another pair of hands. Sadly, I am not Lakshmi or Vishnu, nor do I have anyone close at... um, sorry, hand to lend an helping... um, sorry again, hand, so off I trotted once more to find a solution. (Moral to No.3 - Life is not complete without someone else at home. :: sighs :: I bet those Hindu Gods didn't have this problem...)

No.4 was to place the skein around my feet and wind it from there. FEET? That smacks somewhat of excercise :: gasps :: Also, see original problem... (Moral to No.4 - Laziness does not a ball from skein make...)

No.5 was to turn a chair upside-down, wind the skein around the legs and wind in the 'old-fashioned way' and what do you know... a mile of yarn later and I CAN haz ballz of wool!


Tomorrow I am off to buy a swift. Dammit.

* 2 skeins of Angels & Elephants Hand-Dyed Shetland Sock Wool in Damson Delight.
2 skeins of Angels & Elephants Hand-Dyed Shetland Sock Wool in Sea Spray
1 skein of Jennifer's Flock Sock in Pinot
1 skein of Jennifer's Flock Sock in Gold Olive
1 skein of Jennifer's Flock Sock in Summer Green
1 skein of Jennifer's Flock Sock in Copper Pennies
1 skein of Jennifer's Flock Sock in Tomato Leaf

** Wheech - to move through the air, rush, dash with a whizzing sound.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Pollen and Sneezing and Bach, oh my...

Ugh. And verily I say unto thee, Ugh. I've not succumbed to a bout of hay-fever for yonks, but there was something blooming in Rennes that didn't like me. Or liked me too much. I'm not quite sure. Excuse me a moment :: honks into a hankie ::
The project in Rennes was lots of fun, in a good-heavens-you-want-us-to-rehearse-HOW-many-hours kind of way... We were performing in the Parlement de Bretagne which although unassuming in a 17th century way from the outside, was breath-taking inside...
La salle des Pas Perdus (The room of the Lost Steps)
Le Grand Chambre
Me, being me, came back with sixty-odd photos. The place was fabulous! It's only recently been opened to the public again after an horrendous fire in 1994 but the restoration work was beyond perfect.
Part of the immense and incredibly baroque ceiling in the Grand Chambre
One of the hallways surrounding the courtyard

But yes, there was a lot of hard work involved in the concerts. And I use the plural. I was roped into doing another concert of medieval polyphony aswell, although with some of the same musicians. Sublime music, but not completely do-able on only a couple of read-throughs before the concert itself. Yikes. Ach well, I could've said no, but they were a person down due to illness... Anyhoo, needless to say we were all knackered after the last concert of Bach. But then again, one voice/instrument per part is exhausting at the best of times. Mmm - cantata BWV48 and the g minor Lutheran mass. Well worth being attacked by rogue pollen for!
 I was a good girl, however, and in the 8 and a half minutes I had free I did some KNITTING! Oh yeah! Well, actually I did a lot of tinking and frogging because my second Zombie Sock managed to fall off one of the needles in my bag and after a lot of cursing and fiddling I think I managed to get it back to where it was before the free-fall accident. *sigh*
So there's nothing to show for that, sadly, but I did get some log-cabin squares done for the BAG!
Knitting these is so relaxing! I guess you can already tell that by the 'interesting' not-quite-straight edges... Ach well, I know this bag will involve felting, so I'm rather excited about it and not worried too much about 93- and 87-degree angles!
And thank you for all the encouraging words concerning the L. A. C. E. dilemma - I am girding my loins in preparation of starting something soon! WHEE!!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

L is for...


Um... actually, no, not really. It was originally going to be 'lace', I promise you, but after the Lace Fates conspired against me (see an earlier post) I had to give it all up. So instead, here is a picture of a not-quite-so L-is-for project:

L is for Little White Bag?

Mina is the daughter of very good friends and neighbours here in Tours. She turned four years-old on the 9th of June and I've known her since she was, um, almost before she was merely a twinkle in her daddy's eye, as it were... Her vocabulary is scarily impeccable and she can already spell my name out on her mini white-board. With a pink pen, of course. She is a precocious wee darling. A but naughty at times (well, she is only 4!) but always says please, thank you and gives you a kiss on each cheek. *sigh* I made her this little bag as she loves the things I knit for her. She wants me to teach her now, which will be interesting. I shall attempt to view it as a French vocabulary exercise as I can only really talk about music, beer and noise with any kind of authority at the moment (the word to be used lightly) and even then...

I also gave her a wee necklace made from the extra buttons I made out of FIMO for the bag, and attempted a crochet chain with REAL yarn. It was a lot more scary than doing the same thing with wire, I can tell you. I don't have a photo of the necklace (it was more of a spur-of-the-moment, very-last-minute, OMG-is-a-bag-enough kind of thing...) but I do have one piccie of the buttons, artfully shot by moi. The blurriness was, um, artfully intentional...

Fimo-licious buttons

Mina came round to say thank you after she had decided to change into a dress that matched the bag. I wish I'd taken a photo - cuteness in a pink and blue flowery dress, wearing the necklace and holding the bag that was already stuffed with her favourite things of the moment, including a toy mobile phone in the phone pocket. Way, way too sweet! So I am happy that she is happy. Huzzah!

And now it is time to decide what knitting projects to take with me on the next foray away from home... My Tsarina of Tsocks 'Vintage' sock kit arrived today (to much jumping around and squealing 'wheeee') but that is definitely a 'home' project. I may be able to fit in a few balls of the Noro Kureyon into my case to continue the log-cabin squares (oh, I decided to make a bag out of the afore-mentioned log cabin' technique - I don't think I have enough yarn for a full blanket, and I do love me my bags), and the Zombie Sock number 2 is nicely portable and the pattern is already in my head... Nicely written pattern, that one... I don't know how much spare time I'll have, though, as it's only a 4-day project.

I think I'll bring along another sock to start, just in case... Just probably not a lacy one...

Saturday, 7 June 2008

There goes my chidlhood...

I'm upset.

By the next time I'm able to get 'home' home (my heart rests in Scotland...) my village shall be changed beyond recognition. Oh, I know, it's all about letting go and moving on etc, but I tear-up every time I think about it, which is often...

© Jim Bain

This little village is where I spent the first 19 years of my life, before going off to college. It is where my mother was born, where my grandparents lived and we can trace our family back generations to this small area. According to a local history book* it appears on record for the first time in 1144 and lies between medieval roads leading to an important religious town 3 miles away. It nestles between 2 hills and its name means 'The Valley of The Kinness' (which is a small burn that meanders its pretty way out to the North Sea a couple of miles away.)

But, yes, it's fair to say that there has been some development over the years: outlying fields having the odd house built upon them, old farms being turned into steadings, the biggest of which was to the north-west of the village around 20 years ago, with the addition of a small council estate. But the village has basically remained in it's very old formation for centuries, with the old common grazing ground in the middle: once the place to keep your sheep. You can see it in the photo - the massive patch of green to the top-right... In the past 200 years or so (since the need for having your own sheep nearby was no longer relevant, I presume) the field has been used for growing crops.

Ah, the memories - fields of barley to run through... (on the tractor tracks - we was good little people!); the hay bales to make fortresses out of in Autumn; the tall Summer grasses to make little palaces out of when it was a fallow year; the Bonfire Night festivities which my LS and I would watch from our Gran's living room window opposite the field, oohing and aahing at the fireworks
when we were wee... This field is the heart (and soul, if you'll allow) of the village.

3 Years ago a housing developer approached the owner of the field in regards to buying it to build 28 houses, a shop and a flat there. There were many things they were proposing to change along with the building works and the village went up in arms. They were thankfully successful in blocking the move and we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Fast forward to April 2008 where there are major changes in the local council - new people in, old people out. Suddenly there are signs on the field telling us - TELLING US - that there will be works beginning in the early Summer 2008 on a new housing scheme on the field. 30 houses. ('affordable housing', so the sign informs us - how generous of them...)

Of course, it is inevitable. It is prime real estate. The owner is a greedy old bastard who is flagrantly going against his father's wishes in selling the field in the first place. (The family have been farmers here for generations.) But to shove 30 houses into a not-enormous village commons, a commons which is surrounded by ancient cottages and huge gardens, seems avaricious beyond belief.

It will affect a huge proportion of the village, considering that most of it was built up around the commons in the first place, and by the next time I'm home in October there will be nothing left of the centuries and centuries of history encompassed there. Nothing but the building works of 30 cramped-together houses, and memories.

*'Fife in History and Legend' by Raymond Lamont-Brown

Mair Bloag Weejits

Footerin' Aboot

Footerin' Aboot
Heh! I'm so funny!

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