Sumptuous Summer Socks

What does a girl need in the middle of a British heat wave that has even reached up to the far north but a pair of hand knitted wooly socks. I finally finished a pair of vanilla socks that have been on the needles since about February (when wooly hand knitted socks may have been a little more appropriate). I used some yarn bought on our trip to London (for the Lightning Process training) from Loop and I can’t remember for the life of me what it’s called, sorry (blogger fail, again). Anyway, enjoy a pic:

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Ok, I admit it, the socks are a ploy. I’ve been blogging just long enough to know that a pretty photo of yarny stuff will grab your attention. I also know that a mention of the lightning process makes for lots of views, randomly.
So let’s talk about what’s really important right now. Not yarn, although life enhancing, not essential. Not the lightning process, although more than life enhancing, this isn’t what is on my mind today.
A friend shared a link to a broadcast by Jon Snow, a news presenter, who has just returned from Gaza. It made me cry. In fact, just watching the news recently makes me cry.
Now I, despite being a well educated professional who likes to think I am well informed, ashamedly knows very little about Israel and Gaza. I do know that for as long as I can remember the Middle East has been on the news and I have zoned it out for being impossibly complicated. I have no idea who is ‘right’ and who is ‘wrong'; I assume there are many aspects to each side and I do believe that it is likely that we are only fed information that supports a particular Western agenda.
So I don’t want to discuss the politics of it, or do I? Because when children are needlessly (is there ever a need?) dying then just how long do I, as an individual, sit by and do nothing. When people are being denied the right to proper medical care such as effective pain relief, where is the tipping point into taking action? Well for me, watching this today was it. As usual when seeing this kind of atrocity, there is the accompanying sense of utter powerlessness and the urge to leap on the next plane to go and…do what exactly? So I did what most Westerners, when faced with this dilemma, does. I donated some money. Not much, certainly not compared to the luxury I live in. I am surrounded by creature comforts, I have access to medication, (too much) good food and clean water and I sleep safely next to my loved one. For those ‘living’ in Gaza, I imagine that none of these are widely available so parting with a few pounds is insignificant really. I donated to Medecins Sans Frountieres;lots of people do remarkable things for this charity so the charity can do remarkable things for people. If you would like to read about an example of this, have a look this blog, a woman well known in the knitting world who is undertaking a very very long bike ride to raise money for MSF.
Have a think about donating, it made me feel fractionally less powerless.
If you would like, let me know via the comments and the socks could be yours.

Postcards from the sea

The spinning group I belong to is held in Castlehill Heritage Centre which is a renovated 17th Century farm building adjacent to the old flagstone quarry by Dunnet Bay in Caithness. It’s a lovely building and has a beautiful garden as well as housing themed exhibitions, workshops in traditional crafts such as dry stone dyking and traditional folklore events.
There is a fundraising exhibition being shown at the moment where people were asked to create a postcard sized ‘picture’ of the sea. So on Thursday our spinning was in the midst of a sea of postcard multi-media representations of all things oceanic. The diversity of techniques and ideas was astounding and it was wonderful to be spinning amidst such beauty. I took some photos on my phone of just a few to show you.

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This is perhaps my favourite, carded fleece has been used for the sea foam and I think it is a really imaginative use of materials in an effective way; there is a real sense of the movement of the waves

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I love this one too, because of it’s simplicity. It’s entitled ‘Jellyfish’.

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I took a photo of this one as I liked the way the artist had used a piece of driftwood for the boat, I then discovered it had been made by Jane, a member of the spinning group!

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The postcards came from all over the world, some from as far as Australia and New Zealand.

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If you are in this part of the world, the exhibition runs until 30th July and it’s really worth seeing. Then all the artworks will be for sale via silent auction and bids (minimum £5) can be placed either in person or here and funds go straight back into the Heritage Centre.

Busy doing nothing

I’m enjoying my week off work with lots of not very much. It’s easy to do not very much in Caithness. There aren’t that many shops (the weekly supermarket trip becomes a great excitement, really!), only a handful of restaurants, a cinema (although on the other side of the county, it’s a whole lot better than going the 240 miles to Inverness and back which is what we used to do before ours opened)(there’s a whole story about a bunch of us going on a Friday night to see Twilight and then getting stopped by the police on the way back…I was driving and I got in such a mucky fuddle that I drove around the roundabout twice in front of said police, but that’s a story for another day)(how I didn’t get breathalysed I’ll never know)…where was I? Oh yes, doing nothing.
Like I said, here we have lots of beaches, huge empty skies and peace. Wonderful.
We took the dogs to the local beach today, the tide was just on it’s way out so there wasn’t a huge amount of beach to walk along, which suited me (!) but Fin, our Labrador collie cross, decided he would make the most of it and found, not a stick, but as my friend described it, a caber to fetch and carry.

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The nights are still light too, I took these at 11.30pm and you can see the fingers of dusk on the northern horizon soon to be shaking hands with the dawn.

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I have a whole lot more nothing to do and intend to enjoy every quiet minute of it.

Be careful what you wish for…

I’ve found myself, no, I’ve caught myself thinking recently about when I was ill with M.E/C.F.S with a certain sense of loss. Before I go on further, let me point out that this is insane! However there are reasons for it: firstly I think my essential nature is one of discontent, as if my default setting is on negative. I learnt a long time ago that this isn’t necessarily one of right ingredients for a happy and fulfilling life so I work on a daily basis at changing my ‘setting’ to a positive one. Secondly, with illness comes a lack of responsibility as in not able to work, less decisions to make and an excuse, if you need one, to bow out of anything.
A less conscious reason for ‘reminiscing’ about being unwell is because that was when I got to rest a lot and I’ve been overdoing it recently and have started to realise, with some difficulty, that I need more rest. Of course, me being me, I ignore that need (probably part of what got me into the whole M.E thing in the first place) and storm ahead regardless. Fortunately, the healthy part of me keeps muttering away in the form of fantasies about resting until I finally let go and surrender to giving myself what I need. Maybe a little too late as today I’ve relived what it was really like to live with M.E; not just like having a lovely rest but struggling with sore joint and muscles, brain fog (I’ve been packaging up a couple of orders, do you have any idea how difficult that is when your brain is full of mushy peas?) and fatigue. It’s been a very good reminder of what life used to be like. No weaving – not a chance…little communication…no life. Well I’m not having that back!!
So I’ve arranged a week off work (fortunately I have wonderful colleagues), a follow up phonecall with my Lightning Process trainer and a GP appointment. The Lightning Process is about appropriate energy, not like taking speed, which is kind of how I’ve been (mis)using it.
There we go, I’ll keep you posted.
Ok onto crafty things. The Tour de France has started, very excitingly in Yorkshire this year (how that makes it the de France Tour, I have no idea but what do I know?) which also means, more excitingly, the Tour de Fleece has also commenced. This is a Ravelry spinning challenge , where spinners of all shapes and sizes set spinning goals, share their progress and cheer each other on during the cycling race. I’ve joined the ‘Weaving in the Saori Way’ group team and have set myself the challenge of spinning something every day, to be woven into a piece of Saori inspired cloth for our bedroom curtains. So far I’ve spun up some alpaca, while I was awaiting my merino tops to arrive, and plied it with some cashmere just to free up my bobbins.

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My merino is now here and looks a bit like this:

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There has been some stunning spinning shared on the Ravelry page, I’m loving it so far.

New name!

Ok so you may or may not have noticed that this blog has a new name. It’s been going for just over a year (yup, I have to confess I missed the blog birthday #fail) and things have changed around here quite a lot. Twelve months ago or so I was completely focused on dyeing yarn and selling it here which was great fun but it’s a very competitive market and there are a lot of yarn dyers out there with oodles of talent. Consequently I have decided to stop dyeing, certainly to sell anyway, and move towards concentrating on weaving. To celebrate I changed the name of the blog; different name, same meanderings. For you, dear knitter/weaver/yarny person, I have a 25% sale on in the yarn shop. If you enter the code ‘birthday1′ at the checkout, your discount will be applied. Happy shopping and see you all very soon with some more weaving x

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More this than that

I’ve suspected for a while that I’m not so good at balance. I’ve always been an all or nothing kinda gal but it’s not actually that good for me. Recently I’ve been burning the candle at both ends as I’ve been doing my ‘normal’ job, weaving, setting up my weaving business, doing all the social media type stuff that is required, and the day to day things like cooking and occasional cleaning; all while I am in the early stages of recovery from a chronic illness. It had started together on top of me (I think I realised when I came close to launching my iPhone through the conservatory window when the blasted internet connection was too slow to upload one measly photo to Facebook…any of you living in a city have no clue how frustrating this is) so we decided to Go Away. This was to be a grown-up going away as opposed to our usual sloping off in a tent or to some ghastly B and B with more rules than a prison (my most recent TripAdvisor review bears testament to this). Just for a night. In a proper hotel. With a restaurant and everything. And a swimming pool.
I booked it and then discovered that every man and his wife in Caithness had been to said hotel. How did I not know?!? I think it was a cunning plan by Mr Knittingkitten to keep me away from the establishment as now we’ve been once I don’t want to go anywhere else again. Ever.
It was WONDERFUL. Here is the bed:

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Huge. I didn’t know they came that big. With a proper comfy mattress and duck down pillows. Sigh. I slept like the proverbial log and was woken by breakfast! Yep, we went the whole hog and had breakfast in our room.

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We were ready for breakfast having only had a three course meal the night before involving smoked salmon (Mr Knittingkitten, not me), meltingly tender beef and freshly made strawberry cheesecake. Mmmmm.
The bestest best thing though was that we could take the dogs. Our room was on the ground floor with doors onto a patio and garden access so perfect for them.
Despite the super large bed though, the dogs still managed to nick all the duvet.

Saori

I am on a most exciting weaving journey. All things considered, I have been for the last few months but this week has absolutely been up there in terms of developing my creativity.
For many years I strongly believed I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Then I realised that maybe cooking could be considered a little creative; I like to cook and bake and Mr Knittingkitten often comments that I very rarely follow recipes to the letter, I often make the odd ‘tweak’ here and there.
Next came knitting; this I conceded was most definitely creative. There’s no getting away from the finished object, something created by you with just a bit of posh string and two sticks. I’ve never managed to really get my head around designing much so I used this as the proof that, again, I’m not really really creative.
So this brings the question of ‘what does creative mean?’). Is it enough to follow some else’s recipe or pattern to create an end product like a tasty cake or cute sweater? What about making adaptations to said recipe or pattern to suit your own individual taste or shape?
I’m sure there are lots of creative arts people out there who could probably enlighten us but for me, weaving has been where my truly creative juices flow.
I’ve always loved colour but shied away from it for reasons unknown. Weaving has given me the chance to really play with colour and it’s one of the reasons I love making baby wraps as I get to blend colours through graduation warps and blending wefts.
For various reasons I came upon saori weaving. One of the principles of saori weaving asks us to consider the difference between machines and humans. It is a welcome respite from baby wrap weaving where there is so much emphasis, largely for safety, on producing near perfect selvedges and consistently balanced cloth.
Saori revels in ‘flaws’ by not seeing them as flaws but as adding to the unique beauty of each woven piece. This is challenging for me with my perfectionist streak but healthy for me to focus on. I wove me first saori-inspired piece this weekend; it was really hard to resist the urge to unweave skipped threads and redo the selvedges! But it was so much fun! I dug out some old bits of handspun and left over sock yarn as well as some random bits of fleece and just had a ball. I had planned to make a bag with the finished fabric but I’ve taken it off the loom and really like the way it drapes so may leave it. I shall wait for the fabric to tell me what it would like to be. This feels creative.

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