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Sunday, 17 August 2008

Singin' in the Rain at Bookfairs

Simon the gardener has strimmed a large patch of the weedy vegie bed so that I can assemble the new chook shed. One of the things I'm having to get used to on my return from Oz is the variance in terminology. In Oz the strimmer would have been a whipper-snipper. Any variance for USA or other parts of Europe?

Since he did this, it has rained a lot every day so the chook shed is still flat packed and wrapped.
As you can see here it is leaning up against the side of the house helping to block the drive with the pieces of carved sandstone church window that I bought in a local auction. One day these pieces which assemble to make a centuries old quatrefoil window surround will be used to frame a Japanese tranquil area of stones, sand and other inanimate objects that can enhance a garden.
The previous tenants left the soccer goals and they will be taken out onto the green soon, by the local young lads to replace the after school impromptu cricket games up against the giant Horse Chestnut tree.

I had hoped that Simon's exploits with the strimmer would gain me access to the cherry tree but there is still a giant wall of nettles to protect it from me. The birds are now getting the best of them and even though I tried a step ladder, I could not get close enough to grab more than a dozen. It is a prolific fruiter and I will be ready for a more effective onslaught next year. This year the birds can continue to feast.

I spent the day at the Tynemouth Station Bookfair and had a wonderful time. I woke to steady, heavy rain and it continued as I drove north through it for an hour. As I arrived it stopped, then it cleared and stayed fine all day BUT I needed my thick cardi.

I had been promoted to the central section of the Book Fair and enjoyed the "newly arrived customers" rather than the glazed-eyed book shufflers that you get further down the platform of the old station.

I was happily surrounded by familiar faces from Darlington. I bought some Tiffin Family silver plate. I bought books from my neighbours and they bought books from me. I met Richard H and told him I would say hello to Carol for him. He missed her at the Scottish fairs last week and I knitted half of a second sock.

Nothing better than a contained space and a lack of anything else to do, to get you through a second sock. I had aready cast on and all I had to do was knit. I am using the basic 3k,1p rib sock from Hilda . GT was fascinated and so I'm now employed to knit some socks for TT.
Because I was knitting on 4 needles I attracted some attention from other knitters. Carrie-Anne came by and spotted me from behind because of my stand-up and knit behaviour. Another lovely lady wanted to know where I got the sock wool from. Once again I have passed on
Becky's name. She has a stall at the craft market in Darlington and she gets the Lana Grossa sock wool and also put me onto the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep shop.

I must now go and unload the car. No matter how well you do and how many books you think you have sold you always seem to come home with as much as you left with....
Cheers to all

Monday, 11 August 2008


I love doing jigsaws and have just finished this 1200 piece. I particularly enjoy map/jigsaws and must admit that I was able to put quite a few pieces into this one because of the shape of the coastline or the part of a name.
As you can see I do the jigsaws on a card table in front of the window. These are foldable tables and are handy for stalls. P came this morning and took three crates of books for sales at Tennants. He has a couple of big collections in for the September sale so my Louis Wain books will probably go on sale in December

I got a bit sick of loud karaoke with the classical stuff so I got the Shangri-las out for a good sing-along. I have the lime green pants and can fix up some pink ankle boots if anyone in the postcode of DL can do the pink and blue jeans and sing a bit more than me.

I have emptied the hallway of books and boxes and it looks great and the old red sandstone flagstones keep the house cool in all weathers! Tynemouth Station Book Fair and Flea Market next Sunday for anyone in the area.
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Hills Are Alive

There was a tinge of purple on the moors in the distance, as I came home from Bishop on Saturday, so I drove on up there to check out the state of the heather.
The heather was only just flowering in spots with a sheltered and southerly aspect, so I will return in a week or so and harvest some ripe heather flowers to see what colour they produce.

I was fortunate to find an old wall which was part of a sheep pen and it was covered in plates of grey lichen. I don't know my lichen species. Learning more about lichens is on my list of things to do but it comes below learning to ride a bike and play the kettle drums, so I won't be doing it for a while.

I parked by the side of the road with the new double CD set of rousing anthems from Classic FM disturbing the sheep, and scraped a few of the lichen scales into a plastic bag. I shall have to return for more to make up enough dyestuff for a dyebath but I don't want to harvest it all from the same spot.

The close-up shows the best lichen seen for a while. I'm also on the look-out, as I drive around, for a good spot to harvest some of the bright orange lichen that grows here-abouts.

Lichens dye quite well without mordants which makes me feel they are more natural in their colour production. They do, however, tend to produce a range of tans and not much else.

I need to spin some more skeins of wool to dye before I start on these new ventures.

Who on earth lifted these mighty stones on to the top of this wall?

Cheers for now

Friday, 1 August 2008

A Tangle of Tansy

Amongst the weeds in the "vegie-patch-which-isnt" grow these lovely yellow button-flowered plants called Tansy.
There was a useful site at Allfibrearts which described dyeing with Tansy.
According to them Tansy grows well in the north east USA and western Canada as well as all over Europe
I harvested a basketful and used the plant in two batches. I cut the flower heads off to use first and then chopped up the stalks to use later.

This selection of dyed wools shows the results of the Tansy and Gum leaf experiments.
From the left...
wool mordanted with alum, left damp in a bag for a few days and then cooked up with tansy flowers. Tin added at the end for a few minutes. This produced the really striking golden yellow that you see in more detail in the last pic. Second from before but no tin added. Third from left...wool mordanted with alum and left damp in a bag for a few days then cooked up with chopped, dried gumleaves. Fourth from the left...wool mordanted with copper sulphate and then cooked up with dried, chopped gumleaves and on the right...wool mordanted with copper sulphate and then cooked up with chopped, dried Tansy stalks.

I'm thrilled with all the results. I was worried at first that they would all be shades of sludge but instead I find them to be a pleasing blend of colours that will knit up well together into a throw which will always remind me of my walled garden.

I'm having a ready made chicken coop with an attached run, delivered on Tuesday. This will be sited on the weed/vegie patch but before it can be placed there I will need to scythe down the weeds to a level that the chickens will be able to move about in. If I put them straight into the patch I would probably never see them again! The weeds are higher than me in places.

It's harvesting and hay-bailing time so the roads around here are full of tractors hauling huge loads around the countryside. The last week has been fine but the rain is moving in again. I hope all the farmers have got enough done. I have kept my aga burning to prolong the good spell of weather. But I did go to Farmways today to pick up a new waterproof jacket. This is a SUMMER waterproof jacket! Much needed around here.

No knitting done recently because of the spurt of dyeing and I've used up all the Wensleydale Longwool and have started on some superfine Merino. I don't like spinning it as much and shall head off tomorrow to the Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop to get some more white tops.

Have a good weekend
Cheers for now Gillian