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Sunday, 25 September 2016

PixieMum updates

This blog is coming to you from my new iPad Air 2, purchased last Monday and now in a new red leather case, we were advised by JL and Apple to buy the case online.  Last Saturday Martha and  I had gone to the Mothership (aka John Lewis Kingston) to investigate why my iPad didn't like me clicking on links, it would sulk, expand everything on the screen before freezing. Basically, it was worn out. The store was so crazily busy that I returned with Ian on the Monday when all was calm. It had taken much persuasion for me to have an iPad nearly five and a half years ago, yet now it has become a tool for living and organising my life. For example, this afternoon I Facetimed Martha, she was sewing a fine seam in her sewing room, I was able to be there with her and crocheting whilst  she finished and modelled her skirt. 

Earlier in the afternoon  I was at JL (again) in their community room at a gathering of the Knitting & Crochet Guild, it was so useful to look up projects, there was a discussion about the Beekeepers Quilt so I could show hexipuffs. In a gentle way I was teased about the meticulous detail of the yarn I had used. As they said, once a librarian, always a librarian. 

Brief interruption of this blog construction whilst Ian and I swop our cars around; our drive takes just one car so the other lives outside in our suburban street. Overnight the big 3 year old Qashqui lives on the drive as per the insurance documents, it is slightly more valuable and bigger than the 20 year old Corsa. Interestingly taking the Corsa off the drive didn't affect the insurance costs, we can't physically have two cars on the drive and wouldn't sacrifice the garden for an old car. 

Other musings that have been occupying my thoughts include wondering why the notices in quiet carriages don't include requests to keep the conversations between passengers at a low level, there are just instructions concerning music and phones. Now, what happened to the rule about keeping to the left? It is ignored, especially in railway stations, on stairs and in tube and underground tunnels. Going up and downstairs I need to hold onto the handrail, especially on the upward haul, verifocal lenses are another hazard for steps but three more separate pairs of specs would be too much - I have reading glasses and prescription sunglasses in addition to two pairs of verifocals.  

Now to end as it is gone 10pm, need to go up the wooden hill, so to close a picture of grandson with whom we have spent a couple of days. When he is not teething he is a cheerful chap at the delightful stage when he suddenly realises he has stood up and walked. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016


When I was at Library School in Liverpool many years ago, someone mentioned that they knew I was from London by my clothes, I was reminded of this earlier this evening whilst catching up on the first of two programmes about Vogue magazine in its centenary year and recalling our visit to Liverpool this week.  

It is becoming a tradition for us to go away to celebrate my birthday, Florence a couple of years ago, Dorset county show last year, this year Liverpool to see the changes since my student days. For most of my life the weather has been good on my birthday, it is as if the weather gods know the Autumn term has started, this year the week has been warm, humid and sunny until today. 

Not sure I like the ride on West Coast line trains, felt bit unsteady if moving about but we were efficiently transported, no delays either way and on time. First shock was the openness of Lime Street station, glass instead of solid walls making the whole so much lighter, once in a taxi delayed by diversions caused by building works. No Skelhorn Street bus station where the maroon Ribble express buses gathered, also where were the Liverpool Corporation green goddesses? Gone, replaced by Arriva, or was it Stagecoach, certainly no longer distinctive from any other city. 

The view from our hotel in Princes Dock, overlooking the Leeds & Liverpool canal, this has been extended to run into the Mersey relatively recently, the river and Birkenhead can be seen in the distance. The hotel, Crowne Plaza had those tiny extras that make me feel good about them, efficient lighting for reading in bed, face flannels, fluffy towels and lots of fresh fruit on the breakfast menu. 

In my mind I had a wish list of places to see, assuming they hadn't been part of the great rebuild, one was the the then College of Commerce, now part of John Moore's University in Tithebarn Street. 

Here it is in all its scruffiness

On my birthday we went to the now finished Anglican cathedral for the 12.05 Communion service in  the Lady Chapel, seemed appropriate, it is some time since we have used the red Common Worship books and to await the announcement of which prayer was to be used, it was D. The Dean who had presided spoke to us afterwards, it was our impression it is unusual for tourists to attend this service. 

Ian took my picture in the cathedral cafe, I consider it my birthday portrait, 

and another on the roof of Liverpool public library, 

Big bag with handbag and knitting inside. The dome behind me is the roof of the Picton library, little changed except the old bound green catalogues have gone, however the rest of the library is a beacon for library buildings. 

What a lovely birthday gift I have been given, memories that don't need storage, cleaning, a chance to see more of England and to remember that very first train journey of over four hours to Liverpool for my interview for the college, an interview that lasted barely 10 minutes. Fortunately train times speeded up by the time I started my studies. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Opinions wanted please

There was something that happened on our Lake District holiday I didn't mention in my last blog, it would be appreciated if any readers of this would comment.

As a thank you for their hospitality we took our friends out for to dine at an hotel near Windermere, booked and chosen by them for its reputation and views, we arrived early, had pre-dinner drinks until our table was ready in the large, but mostly empty room, I think there were four tables occupied in the formal dining room.

Nothing but praise for the food and drink we had ordered whilst having pre-dinner drinks, our problem was at the end of the meal there was shouting and noise from a nearby table which was quite close considering there were so many empty tables, we noticed an iPad or tablet switched on and presumably the grandmother shouting at her grandchildren on line, these children it appeared were about to go to bed and grandmother and the three other diners joined in too. This went on for some time, it was impossible to hold a conversation at our table, the staff who were clearing a table completely ignored the racket, eventually one of our party politely asked the noisy diners if they could be a little quieter, this was met with abuse and cries of spoil sport. Noisy grandmother then told her grandchildren, and presumably their parent that some horrid people had complained so she couldn't continue, to our surprise someone from another table sympathised with noisy table and the whole party moved to the empty sofas in the bar area well away from us.

We decided to forgo coffee, went out on to the terrace to see the views over Windermere before returning home. I wrote a review about this, the response was that as the hotel had wifi it was to be expected it would be used, noisy grandmother had agreed she would be contacting her grandchildren in this way, there was an implication that we had spoilt some celebration. So why weren't we informed when booking, when having drinks or when allocated our table by the staff, or even an apology in advance from noisy grandmother.

I'm trying not to be fuddyduddy, it was the level of noise, the shouting and lack of manners as much as the use of a tablet during dinner in the restaurant, if they were residents why not take advantage of he privacy offered there.

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Recent goings on.

'This seems my year for travelling north, not Yorkshire this time but nearby Cumbria to stay with friends, Val & Geoff in the tiny village, well hamlet of Elterwater, almost in the centre of the Lake District at the end of July. Ian and I spread the 330 mile journey over two days, we are out of practice on long journeys, we decided it would be interesting to see something of the country rather than motorways, our overnight stop was Stafford, we had booked in online, so had time to visit the National Arboretum. Very  surprised it was free entry, we didn't have too long there, but had a much needed tea and a bun before a quick look around, helpful volunteers had advised us how far we could go in the time available, stumbled upon this, 

Interesting for me as my eldest cousin, Roy went to Halton as an apprentice, one never knows when family history connections appear. There was a calmness about the arboretum, we would like to return to appreciate the peacefulness and atmosphere. 

Apart from our first day when rain fell steadily the whole day, we stayed in thereby missing the Ambleside Games, but with a view like this 

 from the house and finishing knitting these socks who minds?  

Rather than a long tirade listing events I will mention an unbelievable coincidence. Whilst away we went to Blackwell, an arts and crafts house near Windermere with amazing views over the lake,     this web address gives details far better than I can. Outside there were statues by Laura Ford, of which three were meant to be a child in distress but there were only two on display. Yesterday, Thursday 11th, Ian and I went to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, near the end this was spotted, the missing statue. 

On another day in the Lake District we went to the Cumbria Steam Fair, amongst all the steam, craft and food stands there were plenty of stalls selling all sorts, I rooted around the Haynes manual for my 20 year old Corsa, but none were available, however another treasure was found amongst sprockets, nuts, bolts, 4 Barbara Pym books, not original publisher but in better condition than mine, on putting the new ones away and counting up I have all her works now. Looking forward to reading them, along with book club book and knitting and crochet books

Our friends in Elterwater have a holiday flat, just for a couple, well equipped, lots of lovely extras like a full fruit bowl, free internet, off road parking, so if any of my readers are interested here is the website:-   There are no agents, do ring the owners up, they love to chat with prospective holiday makers. 

Given the vagaries of Blogger this blog will show the date I started these ramblings, so I will close with saying the blog was posted Friday 12th August, 6.12 pm. Enjoy, I hope not to leave it so long next time. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

All knitting news.

Over a week ago I returned from The Knitting & Crochet Guild's convention in Sheffield at The Edge, University of Sheffield's conference facility and I still haven't told my loyal readers all about the great experience. Details were announced in Slipknot, the guild's journal, I made a decision to go, well did ask a few folk for their views on travelling alone, to join over 60 strangers, all of whom knew what to do, where to go and produced beautiful yarny works. 

There was a chance to add to my ever growing stash, this Artesano British wool said "Buy Me" on the stash busting table, after some considerable thought, I did. Of course I wasn't to know that the Artesano business was to go under a few days later, their yarn Definition is in my stash too.

This sumptuous Yarns from the Plain was dyed by Nic Rudd who gave an inspirational talk about her career progression to indie yarn dyer, the Plain is the Cheshire one, the yarn is British too. This yarn has some nylon in it so it will become a pair of socks for Ian giving me an opportunity to try a rib pattern rather than stocking stitch. 

Another highlight was a visit to Lee Mills, where volunteers maintain and catalogue patterns, garments, equipment in an unheated mill. We were 30 in number, lunch was provided, we had to retain and identify the same mug so mine had yarn from the long tail of a sock I'm knitting 

Below are photos of tools and garments held at Lee Mills,

If anyone is interested in this collection and the social history of knitting and crochet may I suggest you join the guild, members can access the collection online. 

There were two workshops, one Saturday morning where we were taught  Möbius cast on by Sarah Cage to produce (eventually) a cowl, I think some may have made a hat. I had that moment when I suddenly understood what I was doing and I raced away casting on 120 stitches of Sirdar Denim Ultra.

The work has grown to this rather scrunched up knitting with a clear twist, some rounds are knit and some purl using 10mm circular needles.

The Sunday class was on mitred squares, haven't a photo of this to hand, my memory is of about dozen ladies absorbed in knitting in the closed bar. Actually there were triangles too, made by picking up stitches along the side of the square, Anne Scahill gave us tips of the trade, I certainly wish to keep going with this, perhaps it will become a cushion cover. 

Other highlights were the good food served in The Edge" with morning coffee and afternoon tea breaks each day, with delicious looking pastries; plenty of time to socialise, it was expected that delegates would knit or crochet throughout proceedings, no need for furtiveness there; interesting speakers including Susan Crawford on the Vintage Shetland Project, I learnt a lot from the Guild's Facebook moderating team, it seems that FB is taking over from Ravelry, I prefer the latter when a technical matter is raised as it is easy to go back to past conversations for this, FB is more chatty and a kind of Show and Tell than a resource, both have their place. 

A little boast, at the end of the Show and Tell, boosted by half a pint of cider, I spoke of the benefit of knitting in public, based on my experience in Florence when we were able to restore a wallet to its owner because his wife had spoken to me about the hexipuff I was making. This is the photo on my iPad of the completed quilt I passed around, it would have been too much to take the quilt by train to Sheffield. I blogged about this in great detail on 25th September 2013. 

To stand up and speak to 60 people, it was a last minute decision for I am not used to speaking in public, before the convention I was apprehensive for it was my first time at an event where I knew no one, apprehensive of travelling alone and not missing return train, of being organised to be at the right place at the right time, coping with being around a large number of people all of whom I found friendly, helpful and fun. Now I am considering attending next year's confederation in Birmingham, I learnt a lot about myself, about knitting and about avoiding travel on a Sunday, the train crawled along and stopped so often. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Events, past and future

Last night I decided to write my blog, prompted by a couple of photos taken in our front garden. The front garden will be  judged next week, Ian has entered the Borough in Bloom competition, buoyed up by his Silver Gilt award last year when he entered for the first time. The photos were taken on my iPhone so I assumed they would appear in the magic way onto my iPad photos. No, didn't happen and it hasn't happened since 6th June, so I'm a bit miffed. Yes, have transferred the relevant photos but they have gone into 'shared' not the sequence that gives dates and place. Instead of writing, I found loads of old photos in 'shared', deleted them (something I should have done long ago) in case of memory problems. Last time it was found all the photos from my laptop were also on iPad, then I couldn't send emails so different now. 

Enough of my techy problems, here are the two pictures,

and this as I was wowed by the beauty of these plants in the corner by the bamboo and privet in our suburban garden. 

Unfortunately the bamboo will be going, unlike its parent in the back garden it is putting out roots, I am sad but we need to replace it with height that doesn't take the light, changes will be after the competition though. 

So what other photos were taken by my phone but didn't jump to the iPad?  These next two are from our holiday at Center Parcs:-


both were taken plodding around the site, the first I thought showed where the chalet was, think it was on the far right, then the rabbit was to show how tame the wild life was. Didn't take photos, perhaps there should have been a family group for we went with Son, his Wife, Grandson, Daughter and her Young Man. We competed in the family quiz, came second in spite of the lack of knowledge of football and other popular culture. Not going to blog much about the holiday although Ian and I decided that Center Parcs wasn't us, for one thing we don't have any tattoos. Our week away was a week of rain so any plans I had to sit outside and catch up with knitting projects were scuppered, recalling the successful Pilates class reminds me to find one nearby. Ian came top in two archery sessions so he is pursuing that as a new hobby. Best of all we had a week with Grandson. 

Need to get on, later this week I am off to Knitting and Crochet Guild convention at Sheffield University, leaving Ian home alone. Slightly apprehensive, bit concerned about being in a big crowd but not knowing anyone, travelling and finding taxi on my own, Ian looks after me so well, he will see me onto the train at St Pancras, and meet me on my return. Of course then there is the worry of what to wear, there is a formal dinner on Friday night. This is all so different from the last conference I attended, that was the Cataloguing & Indexing group of the then Library Association to launch 22nd edition of Dewey Decimal Classification. 

Right, the washing machine calls out for loading, it is Monday after all. 

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Knitting books

Yesterday afternoon we went to an open day at our local beekeeping society, first time we've been, I wanted to find local honey as it seems to help health wise. Plenty of activities and fund raising, information, bee friendly plants for sale, coffee, cake and raffle tickets were purchased, Sauvignon blanc 2013 was won. 

On our way out we spotted the book stall, usual fiction and old cookery books, then treasure was found. Two hardback and four books of patterns by Patricia Roberts; Passion for colour by Sarah Burnett;  three copies of Knitwear by Nancy Vale of whom I had never heard; four copies of Vogue Knitting dated September 1967 (not to be sold separately), Winter special 1986/87 & 1988, Autumn '97. In 1986 edition there is a feature on The Great British Knitters featuring  Susan Duckworth, Edina Ronay, Kaffe Fassett, Sasha Kagan. In the same issue there is an article by Elizabeth Zimmerman on afterthought thumbs. 

Another issue has an interview with the Knitting Bishop and More Brits who knit featuring Patricia Roberts. 

The lady on the stall said she found the books when she came to set up the previous day, doubted any one would want them so asked us for just £5.00  as she wanted to be rid of them. I left a Kaffe Fassett Glorious Knitting as I have a better copy. 

These books, even though they are old so much is relevant and topical, both the articles and advertisements are fascinating, I am enjoying the serendipity of it all but I doubt I will knit the big, patterned 80s jumpers.