More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Words fail me, so I'm knitting for Boston today - sending love and hugs in every stitch to the families and friends of all those affected.

It's a glorious day today, very windy and wild, but it feels good to spend some time in the garden clearing up and making way for the new growth.

While I've been doing this there's been a song going around in my head. I wrote this song many years ago...  and haven't given it a thought in yonks. However, it's playing on a loop right now, so thought I'd share it. I'd like to dedicate this song to the people of Boston, hoping their hurt will heal and hearts can eventually forgive.

Beyond the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal
Further than Arabia or lands of pyramids tall
Across the ancient Bosphorus and over the Persian Gulf
Past Sinkiang and Afghanistan, floating like a dove.

Asian winds please take me to your home
Carry me away across the foam
Take me to the place where they know what it means
That a word is a thought is a dream.

The Indian's in his teepee and the Arab's in his tent
Nomad of the Himalayas under heavy load is bent
The sailor sails the ocean in his house that floats
The are English lords in castles protected by their moats.

But could the mountains melt in the rays of the sun?
Could the wind play Hermes over seas where men can't run?
Could you tie a ribbon around a thousand little seeds?
Could you string men together like a necklace of beads?

I certainly wish we could!

Hopefully through understanding, compassion and forgiveness one day our planet will be united in peace.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ryedale Folk Museum

I spent a wonderful Easter afternoon in Hutton-le-Hole with P and the grandlings, Isabella and Ava, at the Ryedale Folk Museum.
We hadn't been since the boys were little so it was great to see how the place had moved on with a little help from the lottery. Everything in the old village is really well-presented, from the thatched roofs and wattle fences on the outside to the tools and fittings inside the cottages - it was great for the girls to be able to experience life as it used to be lived on the Yorkshire moors. From the grocery store to the wheelwright, the shops and workshops were stuffed with interesting artefacts...
Outside the chemist
Inside the chemist
Outside the grocery store
Inside the grocery store

The blacksmith's anvil
The saddlery
The shoemaker
The story of Elphi who finishes off any unfinished pieces during the night
while the craftspeople are sleeping - reminds me of The Elves & the Shoemaker
The wheelwright
...some of the artefacts were a little more gruesome than others!
Mantrap - must have been horrid to be a poacher in those days
There were homemade textiles...
Crochet, patchwork and rugmaking on display in this living room
...and Izzi and Ava had fun in the kitchen of one of the cottages, decorating an Easter bunny and chick...
The finished Easter bunny biscuit
Isabella tried her hand at weaving, but sadly Ava will have to wait a year or two until her legs have grown a little - they just weren't quite long enough to move the heddles
But what the girls liked best was visiting Max the Clydesdale horse. We took lots of carrots, so he was very keen on making friends...

... and afterwards we fed the chickens, lots of beautiful old breeds of bantams and a gorgeously hued rooster...
Chaucer's Chaunticleer
...and the girls were tickled pink by the thought of people throwing bad eggs and tomatoes at P and I, after they persuaded us to take turns in the stocks

Beautiful old signs abound...
... and we all had a great time playing in the maze
and with the vintage toys like the hoop and stick and skipping rope - although it was P who had the most fun out of the hoop and stick and sadly I can't find the photo... 
Izzi so enjoyed skipping she decided she'd add it to her
ever-growing list of skills and continue to practise later at home
We were all reluctant to leave by the time they were closing up, but after a quick cuppa in the village cafĂ©, we were winging our way back to York, warm and snug in the car.  We didn't much notice the cold while we were there, too much to explore - but I can tell you our energetic afternoon in the open air made for four very tired but happy peeps.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Gipsy swing and guitar straps

Need to take my mind off things this morning so decided to bury myself in the blog. Had a heavy session at the dentist and can't feel my bottom lip, so feeling very sorry for myself - can't even have a cup of coffee for the next couple of hours as I'd probably scald myself.

On the bright side I'm enjoying my new guitar, even more so now I've been for a couple of lessons. Although I've been playing guitar for more years than I care to remember, I felt I was in a rut, playing the same old pieces and definitely not moving on. So now I'm learning pentatonic scales (something I really should have done years ago, as any serious guitarist knows), which hopefully will give me more confidence to join in with other musicians and also to improvise and play lead guitar.

But my second lesson was the one that set my heart a-flutter - I'm learning gipsy swing!♥ This type of music is so joyful and uplifting, it makes me smile from ear to ear just hearing the opening bars. I've got a long way to go but I've got the form and the time, so it's just a matter of getting comfortable with the chords, then I can practise some lead with the backing track.

It's going to take more practise than I've been doing in recent times, but it feels like I'm exploring a new universe - potentially it'll broaden my musical horizons exponentially.
Hendrix belt
Also planning to knit a guitar strap for the new Martin. And as it happens I have just the pattern in my upcoming bookHendrix is a versatile design which can be knit as either a guitar strap or a woman's belt.  It's knit in Rowan Creative Linen to make sure there's minimun stretch and both versions are adjustable to fit. I always imagined the belt was destined for the Hers chapter in the book, but P reminded me that it might encourage the more flamboyant male guitarist to keep his trousers up when out gigging!

Hendrix guitar strap
Off to practise a few more bars...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Lakes & Knitting Sticks

We spent a glorious few days in the Lake District over Easter, with Tristan, Jane and the grandbabies, Lyra and Louis.
Despite the dire weather forecast, the sun shone and although it was bitterly cold, once out walking, the landscapes are so amazing that you forget to notice the icy winds.
Didn't get any pics of the cafe, but this is the river at Hawes.
Can you see the icicles?
On the way there through the Dales, we stopped in Hawes and found the ideal place for tea with a roaring fire, the papers and comfy sofas on the main street. 

We soon arrived at Pudding Cottage, our base for the next three days.  It was cosy and well equipped, with even a stair gate and toys for the children. We were up early next morning looking for ancient carvings on the stones of the Langdale Boulders or Copt Howe as the locals call it.
I must say it's hard to find them,
but look carefully and they're there.
We walked back along a beautiful valley full of Herdwick sheep, then warmed up with coffee  in the village tea shop.
Copt Howe
Next day we visited Grasmere, one time home of William Wordsworth, who described Grasmere as the loveliest spot that man hath ever found. We walked in his footsteps along the banks of the River Rothay, through fields still covered in places by last week's heavy snowfall.
Lyra loved making new footsteps in the snow
We also took the boat down Windermere to Ambleside and had a scrumptious lunch at Zeffirellis, the veggie restaurant attached to the renown art-house cinema.
Queen of the Lakes
Boats by the pier in Ambleside
On our final day we visited Troutbeck, a beautiful village not far from Pudding Cottage. As we were parking Tristan noticed a house with wonderful windows and, as he always has an eye for interesting places, we went to look at closer quarters. We were met by two women, a mother and daughter, who owned the cottage, and they told us it was the oldest house in the Lakes, dating back to 1541.
Everything conserved, the roof was restored in 1967, using the same slates 
On the advice of the friendly postwoman in the local shop, we walked up Troutbeck hill. This was a steep and stony slope and I was amazed that Jane managed to carry little Louis all the way up, but somehow she managed it - you don't need weight training with a baby on board!

At the top we were all rewarded by the fabulous view over Windermere...
All too soon we were making our way back to York and decided to stop off in Dent, once home to the Terrible Knitters of Dent.
Dent village
There are some gorgeous stone buildings in the Dales and the Lakes, in fact you're spoilt for choice, everywhere you look is a picture opportunity. However, I was particularly keen on this old barn with its brilliant yellow lichen - great design inspiration.

The other noticeable thing is that there are sheep everywhere too - the ancient breed of Herdwicks which are hefted to the land, so theoretically no fences are needed, except to keep them off the roads.
So you can get some idea of scale, here it is with a teacup
When we got back I saw the old knitting stick sitting on the mantlepiece that Tristan had given me several years ago. I started to wonder who had used it and what its provenance was.
Top side
I wondered if they were used like love spoons as a token, carved and given by young men to their sweethearts.
And I couldn't help but marvel once again at the intricate hand-carved work on every face of the stick...
First side
Other side
I know that the sticks were definitely used in Scotland and the north of England, but it occurred to me that maybe they were like ganseys, each one depicting patterns that are local to the area in which it was crafted. Could it be possible to find out more about my stick by its motifs?
I also wondered what type of wood they would have been made of - fruit wood maybe? Whatever it was it would have to be fairly hard to get this amount of detail.

 If you have any other info on these beautiful artefacts, please get in touch.