Saturday, June 30, 2007

the great Norfolk yarn crawl

This is all Graham's fault. He tried to convince me that today would be too wet for the seaside, so I decided that I'd spend most of today in Norwich and then just take a train to Sheringham without alighting, so that I could get a glimpse of the sea, and maybe even a sniff of the sea but no more. (Believe me, though, if you grew up near the coast you can get serious withdrawal symptoms). Well, as you may have gathered from the previous post, I spent rather longer in Sheringham, after all as I had all but bankrupted myself in Norwich. For Norwich is, gentle reader, the home of Norfolk Yarns, stockists of Noro, Kaalund and other great temptations. It is but a brief bus ride from the City centre. It is all too easy to spend lots of time and even more money. In fact, to guard against temptation I rembered some advice I read in a diet book many, many moons ago. To whit: if you keep your house well stocked with biscuits, you won't crave them. So when I left the house this morning I made sure that I had a knitting project, a crochet project and spare yarn and needles/hooks for sudden creative impulses. So I wouldn't need to buy anything.

So much for the theory. I think today's stash enhancement has outstripped even the dizzy heights I reached at SkipNorth last year. I have silk, I have alpaca, I have merino. I have handpaint, I have tweed. I have addi bamboo circulars. I have a new book of crochet instructions which includes diagrams for left-handers, as well as right (I have a decidedly left-handed niece coming to stay and want to get her hooked). And I still crave biscuits, but that's another story.

Somehow I tore myself away. Only then I ended up at stall 144 on Norwich market. Guess what? 200gms of James Brett marble chunky (in lime and lilac) for £2.95. And other, more expensive things.

Clearly, it was time to head for the beach and hope that the sea air would blast this yarn lust away. But still there was time to while away before heading to the station. Surely Waterstones would be safe? How was I to know that they had Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits. (None of the bookshops in Cambridge does). Now normally I'd be concerned about sneaking so much conspicuous consumption past Graham. But he's at a college commemoration feast tonight (class of '67).

One scenic hour later (with much crocheting accomplished) I arrived in the (supposed) safety of Sheringham. Alas, I had forgotten that the only way from the station to the seafront goes past Creative Crafts. And they stock Bryspun ivore needles. (And also, alas, the most irresistible Regia yarn in firey reds with glimmers of green and flashes of yellow). (oh, and cute "knitting bee" kits consisting of yellow pompon makers and French knitting dollies striped yellow and black; and--oh, look!--a flower loom. I used to have fun of those when I was a teenager and my teenagedniece is coming to stay, as well as the lefthanded niece).

Help, quick, to the seafront. Sanity restored, I had to head home but not without stopping for fishcake and chips. And a glance in the remaindered book shop (how was I to know that they'd have a bargain Harmony Guide to Crochet?). and the chips left me thirsty so I had to go to the newsagent to get a bottle of water. Was it my fault they had the lastest issue of Crochet today?

(ggrrrr, blogger appears to have eaten up the links I've added, each time I've saved the draft.)

Sheringham seascape (purple prose alert)

Even before I reached the seafront I could tell it was high tide; the sea makes an altogether more percussive sound when the water is swirling over pebbles rather than sand. But there is nothing stacatto about its rhythm, rather there is a swirling chatter.

This was the North Sea in true English summer mode...mainly shades of brown, grey, muddy green and (eventually, at the horizon)indigo. As the waves retreated they left white foam but the breakers rushing in were tipped with shades of coffee and oyster.

The waves left an undulating pattern on the pebbles, think of the curve at the top of a lolly stick alternating with a truncated, straight edge. And as the waves drew back they left cockle shell patterns, veined with ecru foam, in the curved sections. That was the view from above. Later, (quite a bit later, the sound is so hypnotic) strolling a few yards away and looking on sideways it became clear that the "lolly sticks" were actually gullies which the waves had cut through the pebbles.

you realise just how wet it is when... arrive home to find a frog on your doorstep, sheltering from the rain!

Friday, June 29, 2007

laughing in the museum

This week has been (almost) busy. Heavy rain on Monday turned our back garden into a lake (to the utter bewilderment of our cat) and our the contents of garage (which, being a zero car family, we use for storage)had to be hastily re-arranged as water started to flow in... but we got off very lightly compared to many in the midlands and the north. Tuesday night was KTog night. Wednesday (usually a day off) saw me at work for the stocktake, although I did escape for an hour to have lunch with my parents who were in Cambridge for the day. There was more stocktaking on Thursday afternoon (I was spared in the morning so that I could do my turn on the Cambridge Country Market--the organisation formerly known as the Cambridge WI Market-- stall and was delighted to do a roaring trade in my crocheted broochers and corsages).

I had planned to head off to the coast today (to Sheringham and Cromer, about 3 hours away by train) but overslept rather drastically. Tried to do some knitting but it kept going wrong. Well, I suppose to be fair it was me who kept going wrong, not the knitting, but I got really rather fed up with the yarn and needles and so hopped on a bus into town with no plans whatsoever at all. Somehow, I ended up here,where I had a wonderful time just using the "follow your nose wherever it goes" principle. And after some old favourites (cermaic, Italian religious paintings) I ended up in a gallery full of Howard Hodgkin's most recent paintings. And, forgetting all museum-goer's etiquette, I burst out laughing. For Hodgkin's later paintings are broad strokes of vivid colour, textural paint extending onto the frames. Whilst they look quick and spontaneous I noticed that several had dates like "1999-2003". Hmm, is all that texture to do with painting over previous compostions? One picture, in particular, has lots of horizontal bands of colour but then, about a third of the way in from the right, there is an angry vertical band of dark grey. Happily the only other person in the gallery was an attendant and she shared my amusement. Like me, she loved the colours but wasn't sure that she exactly "got" the paintings. But she drew my attention to the wonderful titles. I particularly liked "Old Books". Once I'd seen the title what had previously been just a load of horizontal brush strokes (the rather scratchy ones you get when your brush isn't terrribly well loaded with paint and the bristles are in annoying clumps) really did look like a stack of books.

After that I found a room with a selection of 22 satirical engravings, showing the way the English and French stereotyped each other in (more or less) the 18th century. So: starving Frenchmen roasting frogs on spits outside a pub called "The Roayl Clog" (apparently all French peasants wore clogs) and English ladies in poke bonnets looking most frumpy compared to the elegant French. One English soldier was depicted with a barrel of beer round his neck, possibly the earliest depiction of a British lager lout?

I think I'll have to go back and take another look! Am now planning to head off to the coast tomorrow, though I fear rain may stop play...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

I could get used to this...

Sorry about recent silence, having problems with boradband, mainly involving the 15m extension cable between our 'phone socket and this computer...

However, I've been busy getting the hang of working part-time. Lots of outings, lots of crochet, lots of reading (have found "How to Be Free" and "how to be Idle" by Tom Hodginkson particularly useful!) and lots of playing with the camera.

Highlights have been the Cambridge Knitting Group joining Bury St Edmunds Stitch'n'Bitch for a picnic in The abbey Gardens, Bury St E on worldwide knitting in public day and spending this morning processing through Ely to celebrate St Etheldreda's Day. Every so often the procession halted for delightful music (hymns, Mendhelsson, medieval tunes, Andrew LLoyd Webber)and dramatised scenes from St Etheldreda's life. When we reached St E's shrine a very touching death scene was followed by a rousing rendition of "When the Saints Go Marching In". After that, Graham took communion and I went and sat crocheting near the Cathedral entrance.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bus tickets, Saturday

Just a thought: if you're using stagecoach buses for your journey on Saturday, ask for a "dayrider plus" on the first bus you get on, as it will cover your local journeys, as well as Cambridge-Bury St Edmunds.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bury St Edmunds knitting picnic (more details)

I'm getting *very* excited about this! It is open to anyone who'd like to come along and knit (suspect I'm going to be taking some crochet, actually) and is taking place at the Abbey Gardens from noon-2pm on Sat 9 June. The place to be is "just inside the main gate, to the right", but I imagine all you need do is listen out for the laughter (if KTogs are anything to go by...).

I'm going to go even if it is pouring with rain, in which case maybe we could meet at the appointed place and then find pubs/cafes to invade.

Meantime, I enjoyed the first day in my new job but am going to have to unlearn lots of procedures. Today was a day off, though. I quickly got the hang of that! I'd been promising myself a trip to Ely since I last went 2 years ago. It is littered with benches in picturesque settings, so there was a great deal of sitting and reading (current reading material "How to Be Free" by the editor of the Idler), a long spell in Ely Cathedral (my favourite part is the newest, the passageway to the Lady Chapel), and rather more retail therapy than is wise on a part-timer's budget. In the cathedral giftshop I found a marvellous little volume on geometry in churches, just crying out to be used in conjunction with Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer's work over at Woolly Thoughts (sorry, no links this evening as 'phone line is in a very bad mood, and internet connection lasts only seconds). In Toppings Bookshop (which has, incidentally, a better poetry and lit crit section than any shop in Cambridge) I finally found a copy of a weighty tome on Shops and shopping in Engalnd (an architectural study by an employee of English Heritage, that I've been looking out for for some 3 years). And the Ely City Cycle Centre (which does quadruple duty as a purveyor of toys, models and craft equipment, as well as bikes) had some rather tempting hemp yarn (for crochet and macrame) in yummy colours at £1.10 for 71m... All this on a day when a book that I'd totally forgotten that I'd pre-ordered (Nicky Epstein's latest: the lamely titled Knit Never Felt Better) arrived. It has some great ideas but I feel that it has too many illustrations and-- what a con-- many pictures of items using felted knitting have captions saying "Vogue pattern XZZZX". Still, I can see I'm going to have lots of fun with the Shibori section. Husband was heard to mutter, "at last, a use for Rosie's marble collection". Hmm, I get the feeling that he's tired of dusting it (I do keep it in a jar, rather than having them arranged on a tray).

Saturday, June 02, 2007


Sorry about the silence of late, but read on and all will become clear.

Today was my last day in my current job and I start a new (part-time) post on Monday. Much as I loved my previous job, the wretched twisty stairs and box-lugging were playing havoc with my knees and ankles and some of the work I'd really enjoyed was no longer needed (thus increasing the proportion of box shifting!). Frustratingly, I leave my previous employer just at the point when I think business is going to soar, but I value my legs and sleep too much to rue this day.

Now I'm planning to catch up with my (neglected) family and friends and go places and do things (will just have to watch new, reduced, income..) And I can get this blog up-to-date with tales of South Africa, patchwork knitting in Marlow, a new technique from Horst Schulz, and the chance to join with the Bury St Edmunds Stitch'n'Bitch on worldwide knitting in public day on 9 June.

Watch this space (if I've any readers leaft after such a long pause...)