Sunday, November 15, 2015


The scarf I finished on Friday night/Saturday morning while listening to the news from Paris on the radio.  Destined for a Christmas present.


2 x 2 houndstooth check on 7.5 dpi heddle; the yarn is Herriot Heathers from The Sheep Shop - 100% baby alpaca and feels like it!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Fun of the fair

To Festiwool at Hitchin.  Given that I'd been up until after 3am listening to French radio, wandering around the house and ranting, I wasn't exactly the most awake I've ever been.  But it was a lovely event, and good to meet some knitters and look at some beautiful things.

Here's the haul:  Silk and baby camel from Travelknitter; Sokkosu O merino from Whimzy, which will become an ikat warp scarf, I hope; Nimbus (merino/silk/yak) from Sparkleduck in a colour Heather assured me would go well with the other two colours I have, and indeed does, beautifully.  I picked up another couple of things but they were for gifts so not shown here...


Now off to dinner with friends in the village.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Not a night for blogging

I had an idea for a post tonight; but there are no words compared to what's going on in Paris.

Other than maybe, dear God, not again.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


If you've watched/listened to the news today, it won't have escaped your notice that the Indian prime minister is in town.  And if you tried to get through the Westminster area, you'd have been sent off in all sorts of odd directions; all roads closed all day.  This surprised my colleague and me; we needed to get to the building in the middle to retrieve our visitor, the guy delivering a training course to our colleagues, and take him to lunch.  There wasn't nearly as much fuss when the Chinese premier came last month.  But it was so wonderful how quiet the whole area was without traffic.


I gather there were protesters up on Whitehall, but we couldn't get up that far; on the way back, we did see the small welcoming committee, with their lovely crocheted banner, chatting away to the police on a warm, sunny afternoon.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015


There has been so much overshadowing kerfuffle about the Cenotaph observations this year. I used to work about 100 yards from the Cenotaph and have generally posted something here about Remembrance Day, but this year even showing a picture of the Cenotaph might contravene my draconian non-partisan employment clause!

On the way from my new building to my old building, I pass this: the monument to the Bali bombings.


There are 202 doves; people of 21 nationalities were killed; and it stands as a powerful memorial.

Very obviously, we need to remember people who voluntarily, or under duress in time of war, put themselves in harm's way to serve their country.  We should remember their bravery, and terror, and the sacrifice they made willingly or unwillingly.  And we should also remember the "collateral damage"; most obviously military families and the civilians who can't get out of the way.

I remember realising, with a shock, that three guys having a kickabout on my village green a couple of years ago were each playing with one prosthetic leg.  I remember a friend visiting the village at about the same time having a similar experience in the queue in the shop one evening when she bent down to pick up her bag and realised half the legs under the shorts of the fit young men in front of her were made of high-tech metal.

There are also the MSF medical staff killed while volunteering their services to save lives in appalling circumstances; and the people drinking in Birmingham pubs or dancing in the nightclubs of Bali, totally unaware they were part of someone else's war.

There are no more World War I veterans, and the number of living World War II veterans is dwindling rapidly; but we need a space to acknowledge the chaos wars continue to wreak in so many lives.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I'm loving the Great Pottery Throw-Down on BBC2 at the moment.  Particularly the appreciation that this stuff takes time.  

The art teaching I had at school was universally a bit rubbish in terms of inclusiveness.  It was technique-driven, and if you couldn't do the technique, you were left behind.  And "left behind" was definitely the right phrase in one year, where we spent the entire year learning watercolour, with a teacher who wasn't qualified in art teaching, who insisted that left-handers still lay a wash in the right-handed way; which meant we four left-handed kids were utterly scuppered to begin with because you had to lay the wash and paint over it in a certain order. (It's illustrative that I remember there were four of us. One in seven. One in seven kids who may as well not have turned up that year.  It's given me an appreciation of difference. But I'd rather have learnt to use watercolours.)

I've always made things, and combined colours. But the first time I actually did this formally was at a pottery class.  I made something or other in the basement of the Student Union (I think?) at Cambridge, and then some pots during my MSc at Loughborough; I still have one or two bits and bobs from the Loughborough club, and I think a couple of bowls may still be around with my ex-husband.

And then in the late 90s I went to a class at Cottenham with Debbie Cain, who had a completely different attitude to pots; you hand-built (there were wheels, too, but not enough for everyone; and there were lots of things you could do by hand-building); and there was a certain satisfaction in hand-building pots. Everything took a long time compared to Great Pottery Throw-Down - you only had 2 hours a week, you had the time unwrapping and wetting-down your pot, you had to take the tools out of the box again and wonder which scraper you used last time, you probably only had about an hour a week to do stuff, you queued for the kiln - but after a couple of months, you got something.

I have this 24cm high x 10-14cm diameter vase. I use it for stocks in spring, and sunflowers and chrysanths in autumn.


To all extents and purposes, it's rubbish.  I built it over three sessions, and you can see that. It's massively lumpy. There are bubbles and really-not-correct textures in the glaze, and I didn't understand what the pale glazes were for, or what they did.  The top flares out and for some reason I've textured the internal surface of the flare.

And I love it; and I'm proud of it.

By all standards of pottery, it's rubbish. When I take it down off the top of the kitchen cupboard to put flower in it, I smile.

God bless whoever thought of Great Pottery ThrowDown, and all who sail...

Monday, November 09, 2015

A little touch of Harry in the night

Just spent the evening at an excellent performance of Henry V at the Barbican. Had the pleasure of the company of Nic AKA Yarns from the Plain.

Has to be said, I wasn't totally convinced by Alex Hassell's Henry during the first half - he was edgier, less authoritative than I'd seen the part played before - but he showed Henry as a man who'd grown out of his wild days but was still very much a work in progress, and it worked extremely well.  The other absolutely stand-out performance was from Oliver Ford Davies as the Chorus, appearing in his cardi and cords to apologise for the inadequacy of the play.

If you can get tickets,  go.