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Archive Entries for June 2010

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Wednesday June 30, 2010

Books in June

  • FengShuiMystics.jpg The Shanghai Union of Industrial Mystics Nury Vittachi

    This is a "Feng Shui detective novel" - part of a series - a remarkably original gift from my step-daughter. It is a light-hearted humorous book - albeit rather black humour. Personally, I feel sorry for the elephant - yes, I am afraid to tell you that innocent elephants were indeed harmed in the making of this book....

  • Sparkling_Cyanide_First_Edition_Cover_1945.jpg Sparkling Cyanide Agatha Christie [Read by Robin Bailey]
    I enjoy listening to Robin Bailey reading Agatha Christie novels. His voice is like a comfortable chair - like listening to one of my old uncles reading to me (not that they ever did - this is an imaginary uncle).
    I first read this novel when I was a teenager in a single afternoon - but remember little of the plot, as so often happens when you read a book quickly. Listening to it now, I quickly realised that this is a revamp of the short story "Yellow Iris" (1937) which featured Poirot. This novel (1945) does not feature her famous detective - though it does feature his good friend "Colonel Race". However, it is told from the point of view of an innocent heroine, Iris, (as opposed to Iris being the victim in the short story) and the victim is her sister Rosemary "for remembrance" whose character is somewhat altered and expanded. [The person wot dunnit has also changed!].
    Iris does not see quite everything as we the readers do, and it is a (slightly) psychological thriller similar in feel to Margery Allingham's "Black Plumes". Will she escape the fate of her sister? Is she in love with the murderer?
    I recently watched a very modernised TV adaptation (2003) starring Pauline Collins and Oliver Ford Davies - where they appear to be playing some kind of "Tommy and Tuppence" characters in a pretty unconvincing scenario (to be fair - probably no more unconvincing than those two fictional characters and their plots always were!)

  • Taken at the Flood Agatha Christie [Read by Hugh Fraser]
    TakenattheFlood_1stEd1948.jpg It was good to listen to the original text - and good to hear Hugh Fraser reading it. I have seen/heard several adaptations including the radio play - which seemed to stick pretty closely to the novel - and the TV adaptation as part of the David Suchet Poirot series - which did not.
    I did not much like the deviations in the TV adaptation - I think they were done mainly to fit with resetting the plot into the 1930s. As a consequence the fundamental foundation of the story line becomes a pre-planned "gas" explosion rather than an unplanned air raid. This not only does not fit half as well with the characters and their occupations (the heroine has been away serving her country and the emphasis is on how the war disrupted all their lives) but it also rather spoils the title reference.
    "There is a tide in the affairs of men. Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life Is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures."
    It is a quote about grasping an opportunity as it arises - now or never. It is not about anything preplanned.
    I am not universally opposed to plot changes to suit adaptations of AC's work. Some are very original and she herself rewrote her own plots (as above in Yellow Iris for one example). I much enjoy the recent reworking of the Miss Marple stories where she is shoe-horned into other people's adventures in a completely seamless way. After all, Joan Hickson said all there was to say about the original character as written, and these newer stories are exploring ways to add something. But... the Poirot alterations have not been so good; David Suchet has yet to complete his definitive TV adaptations of the canon - so it's not the time to fiddle about with the plots to such a degree. Sadly, "Cards on the Table" was a particularly unworthy of his stated aims for the series - and, now it's done he will have no opportunity to "correct" it.

Posted on June 30, 2010 at 8:58 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Saturday June 26, 2010

Back to reality.


No I have not been there all night (note the change into traveling clothes) but could not resist spending the last hour in the garden before being picked up to travel home.
Over breakfast I met up with a fellow Woolfest attendee (no names exchanged?!) whom I had met last year at the hotel - and like me she had gone to some lengths to book it again. Talking to her made me wonder if we had attended the same event as she had seemed to see so many things I had missed; this made me resolve to attend on both days next year - there is plenty of time to spend the morning there on the second day as well as travelling home.

On the way back we dropped in at a small farm which had Shetland sheep - the owner had been unable to get her small flock sheared in time for Woolfest and was taking orders - she also related the sad (but ultimately uplifting) story of rescuing her sheep from the flooding. I think all the farmers around must have such stories.
I also amazed some very old friends in Windemere by dropping in on them at an unsociably early hour for a Saturday morning. I guess we have not met for over 20 years and they were a bit bemused but very welcoming for all that. Andy and Jeff are due to confirm their civil partnership next weekend and as this post is very late (technical issues) I am slipping in this photo of them (taken by Rob) on that memorable day.


Unfortunately I could not stay with them for very long (Adam and Felicity occupied with coffee and cake and a long journey ahead of us).
Throughout the car journey I was knitting "Puzzle" - a chunky cardigan design by Louisa Harding for which I am using Sirdar Peru. Being chauffeur driven on such a long journey has been great for headway on the knitting - and it says a lot for Adam's smooth driving that I was able to do it.

Posted on June 26, 2010 at 10:17 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Friday June 25, 2010

Woolfest 2010

I have had the usual wonderful day. My first visit was to collect my spindles from Spindlers2 (Carol and Pete Leonard).


I spent quite some time there collecting 2 spindles and choosing some fibre; I also eyed up a delightful Turkish spindle which I lusted after for its cute size, but at 11g it was a bit too specialised for me. Afterwards, I moved on to look at the display area and bought some Yak and Silk fibre which I used with my Greensleeves "Fox" spindle during the Spin In in the evening; it is tricky to spin and probably better suited to a supported spindle, so I was pleased with my efforts.

I was immediately drawn to Deb Gillander's display of ganseys - she had lots of interesting books and stories to tell as we gossiped.


Before the browsing started, we had two missions to complete - one was to get to the fleece sale as soon as possible so Felicity could buy some Wensleydale fleece. In fact she bought 3 fleeces including a Ouissant, which was incredibly soft but not a breed we had ever heard of. Later on we were to see one in the rare breeds parade and this explained why the fleece was only about 1Kg in weight! I was under orders not to buy any fleeces at all but finally could not resist a Gotland; I was torn between a young fleece which was very soft and smaller, and an older one which had better colour variation - I went for the latter, but I'm still not sure I made the right decision.
In the afternoon, we attended the demonstration by Sue Blacker of the Natural Fibre Company, which went into assessing wool quality on and off the sheep, the right fleece for the right purpose, and how to sort a fleece. I found it very interesting and was right in there squeezing the fleeces but Felicity was a bit more reserved - raw fleece not being to everyone's taste...!

Our second mission was to pick up tickets and hand in my pennant. I was disappointed as the pennants were not due to be hung until after closing at the end of the day - however I crept in after the show was officially closed, (during the Spin In) and took this photo of my pennant in its display position.


I was also able to sneak a go on a Great Wheel - I have never tried it before and was pleased and surprised that it was not so difficult - I think it's all in the fibre preparation (which was not down to me!).

When I got back to the hotel, I was still enthusiastic to work with my new spindles and fibre, so I started spinning the merino and bamboo fibre using my other Spindlewood Round made from apple wood. It was a wonderful experience to be outside in such beautiful surroundings, spinning in the twilight.


woolfest2010a_small.jpg pennants4_small.jpg ganseys3_small.jpg rarebreeds_small.jpg
ouessant1_small.jpg portlands_small.jpg baskets_small.jpg herdwickrope_small.jpg
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flood2_small.jpg flood3_small.jpg advert_small.jpg hurdygurgyman_small.jpg
spinin1_small.jpg spinin2_small.jpg dancingderwentbank_small.jpg aspindlingderwentbank_small.jpg

Photo album created with Web Album Generator

Posted on June 25, 2010 at 10:51 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Thursday June 24, 2010

We're off

Today I made the long journey north to Woolfest. I was delighted to stay at the Derwent Bank again - and this year I had an even more wonderful room on the first floor with a prime view of the lake.


I say "I made the journey" but in fact I had a chauffeur in the shape of Felicity's husband Adam - which was wonderful - I (and Felicity) knitted all the way up there. This meant I was able to knit my contribution to the bunting that the Woolclip are co-ordinating as a team effort to decorate the venue from year to year. Here it is lovingly displayed at the window of my room.


I knitted a "right" side but actually the reverse may look even better with the effect of the garter stitch. I am really overly pleased with this effort as it is knitted with the first woolly efforts I spun (and dyed) to knit - Ava's Suffolk sheep making a hat, and a pair of blue socks - and now bunting.


Later on I walked down and sat at the lake's edge and did some more (different) knitting. It is wonderfully peaceful - right in the centre of the picture is a heron, who was quietly fishing as I quietly knitted.


Posted on June 24, 2010 at 8:12 AM. Category: Knitting.

Saturday June 19, 2010

June spinnings

There were quite a few spinners at this month's meeting.


Claire and Felicity sporting their new wheels. Felicity's Majacraft Suzie has only just been delivered to her after long anticipation. Amanda (in the foreground) has an unusual wheel hand crafted by her husband, which spins from a point - the wheel itself being a substantial block of wood propelled by her foot. This is a type called a kick spindle or kick wheel.
My wheel and teacup are the only visible evidence of my presence -
and, yes...... that is a bloke in the background.

Sandy was busy preparing ply-split braiding kits ready for the group's participation in Celebrating Surrey at Loseley Park next weekend.


I shan't be participating in this event next week as I am off to .... Woolfest!

Posted on June 19, 2010 at 6:16 PM. Category: Spinning, Dying, Weaving.

Sunday June 13, 2010

Shabden Park Farm

Shabden Park Farm Open Day - including tractor rides and sheep shearing - and our group spinning to show kids what happens to the wool after it comes off the sheep.


It's always fun to spend the day in the sunshine spinning - provided you can steel yourself to endure small children with their ice-cream hands on your fleeces - and in one case sneezing and wiping hands on the wool!

There was a farmers market where I discovered that Emma of Lavender Cottage Fibres has a regular stall every month - I bought some lovely hand-dyed fibres from her - she stores them all with lavender so they smell wonderful too.


She also sells her own handspun and I chose the multi-colourway in the basis of seeing the effect in her spun fibre. The red batt is a scrumptious colour, with just a hint of sparkle.
The farm is very local to me and I may well visit the market in the future - for yarn and other produce. George came along for a while and bought some of the edible wares.

Posted on June 13, 2010 at 11:29 PM. Category: Days Out.

Sunday June 6, 2010

Minor problems

We spent the week in France, and I took a few photos of the garden - our wonderful strawberry bed and so on (on our last day there were just two ripe strawberries - one each) - but when I got back I found that all my photos were black. My camera had every appearance of working - but was not. It's a nice camera but I have mistreated it somewhat - and it's now sufficiently old that I was quickly able to find a refurbished replacement of exactly the same model (with no extras - I have all the extras...) at a very reasonable price.

While I was in France I finished a couple of projects - and started some more.
A new project is yet another Louisa Harding cardigan using Sirdar Peru that I bought at Alexandra Palace last year. I am very fond of this yarn, and it feels lovely when knitted - but - I was a bit surprised to find it coming out in stripes. I knew it had colour variations but I had not expected it to be so evenly striped in this way.


I think it would knit up better into Fiona Morris' modular knitting designs - but too late for that thought now I'm afraid.

Posted on June 6, 2010 at 12:01 AM. Category: Oddments and stray thoughts.