Thursday, 31 October 2013

Autumn nature walk

This week I went for a little walk around some woods near to me. Most of the leaves are still green but there's evidence of plenty of Autumnal colour and nature getting ready for winter.

This area is well frequented by dog walkers and runners, it's very close to a big hospital and when I was a teenager, was known as a place that people would go to drink and fool around. Even with all of this going on there was so much natural beauty if only you pay attention to it.
Did you spot the squirrel?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

A little bit of yarnbombing

 I had this crocheted flower left over from my yarn bombing in Palestine adventures, so instead of letting it get lost at the bottom of a bag of yarn I thought I'd pop it up somewhere in my neighbourhood. The pattern was a spur of the moment thing, invented on the flight to Tel Aviv, I thnk it looks a bit like a sunflower.

 Yesterday while I was out running, I saw one of my sheepish heart yarn bombs still in place after all these months! I've really enjoyed doing small things like this to make my world a more fun and interesting place. I've got lots of ideas about other decorations I'd like to put up around the place too.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Benin Plaques

I was in London last weekend and had a few hours to spare before  getting my train. I headed for the British Museum, I've never been before. It holds so many incredibly famous historical artefacts and important pieces that a lot of the museum felt familiar.

 I've wanted to see the Benin plaques for years but it wasn't until I turned the corner in the Africa gallery and saw them directly in front of me that I remembered they were kept in the British Museum. I think one of the first times I'd heard about the plaques was through the "History of the world in 100 objects" series that had focused on objects held by the British Museum.
The Kingdom of Benin has fascinated me ever since.

These plaques were stolen from Benin (in modern day south Nigeria) in the 1890s while British forces were conquering the area. There are though to be 1000 of these brass plaques which originally covered the Oba's palace. They show typical scenes from the court life of the time including European, probably Portuguese, traders. These are the figures with  flat strips of hair coming from either side of their heads. We know now that the traders were also spying on the Oba's court and keeping very detailed records of defences and riches.

 I have a whole mixture of feelings when I see the plaques. They're infinitely detailed and beautifully crafted, they clearly depict precise parts of life in west Africa and yet the reason I can see them so freely is because they were stolen. They are, to me, a symbol of the theft of land, belongings and identity of thousands of African people by Europeans, in which group I count myself.
Yet I am also someone who loves west Africa

 The kingdom of Benin is one of the prescribed ancient worlds that can be chosen to study in key stage 2 (juniors) in the world history part of the National Curriculum. I've never been into a school, in the two years of supply teaching I've done, that has chosen Benin or the ancient Indus Valley civilisation located across the India Pakistan border. Schools routinely choose the much more familiar Egyptians or occasionally the Aztecs or Maya.
While I was in the gallery, a tour guide was showing around a group who were connected to a Black History study centre, he was powerfully describing the talents of ancient people in Africa and how exactly they had been betrayed and conquered by Europeans.
As we near the end of Black History month, I wonder if we are as fair and open a world as I like to believe.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Autumn renewal

I was in Manchester this week, taking some pictures of these beautiful fallen leaves and admiring the greens and browns together. The trees were just off a main road, when I turned around again to carry on with my day I saw this guy. It seemed like an interesting juxtaposition.
One of the fantastic things about the changing seasons is that they bring constant death and renewal to our lives. It reminds us that for change and new life, something must pass away.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Notes from a Wednesday

I really like reading other people's blogs when they post a picture an from every hour of their day. So I had a go at doing it myself, I didn't really manage a picture every hour, but I think it's still interesting to see what a normal sort of day is like. All of these pictures were taken last Wednesday, the 9th of October. I work as a supply teacher and didn't have any work that day so this is my relaxed/ at home day.

Last Wednesday I knew I didn't have any work so I had a bit of a lie in. 
This is my absolutely favourite bedding. I've had it for many, many years, it's very soft fairtrade cotton from Traidcraft. When I first left  home to go to Burkina Faso I took the duvet cover with me instead of a sheet sleeping bag, I took it to India with me a couple of years later. It came with me to University and to every subsequent house I've lived in when I've had a single bed.
 I've recently started driving lessons at the advanced age of 28, on wednesday I turned left for the first time! I'm finding it quite hard as I have to concentrate so much in order to keep the car running and I'm always worried about hitting something. 
After my driving lesson I spent a couple of hours knitting up a small baby blanket for a friend's tiny baby who's recently been born in Sweden. I'm quite pleased to get knitting again as I thought I'd forgotten how to do it after spending so much time crocheting recently.


I always spend Wednesday afternoon and evening in central Manchester. Normally I get the train but last wednesday my brother was driving into town near where I needed to be so I hitched a lift with him. I was an hour or so early so I spent a while pottering (hah!) around Manchester Museum. There's so much great stuff in there and I really like how the museum is laid out
From 4 I rehearse with Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir. I love the mid week singing break this gives me. Choir is a lot of fun, it's so nice to get together with a big group of people and create beautiful sounds.
After choir I had a spare hour to go and get food before church
I love Wednesdays

Saturday, 12 October 2013

British Musical Fireworks Championships 2013!

Last Sunday I went to the British Musical Fireworks Championship in Southport. Before we went I kept calling it a fireworks fiesta and it pretty much was. This is a big deal competition in the world of pyrotechnics, companies from all over the UK that provide fireworks for events compete to show their ability to synchronise a huge firework display to a range of music. It was a lot of fun!

It's hard to show through photos what this was actually like. The magic of the event was due to the fireworks being set to music and the drama of the music being shown through the type of fireworks used.
After the show we walked along the beach for awhile, tried to get onto the closed pier and fed money into those 2p slot machines. A lovely, slightly odd evening out

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Brambling 2013

There were so many brambles this year. I looked back through my posts from last year and I went blackberry picking at the beginning of September. Last year I went to several different spots to pick berries and got quite a few but not loads and they were mostly small. This year I only picked from one patch and they were all big and juicy .
I mixed these with a bag of windfall apples from our next door neighbour and had a lovely, frugal crumble.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

T shirt yarn crochet rug

About 5 years ago I bought this yarn. I was living in Bradford, doing a bit of knitting and loving wondering around this Mecca of yarn and this large cone appealed to me. Texere is one of the most amazing places to visit if you're into anything yarny. It's been a couple of years since I was last there but they have yarn of all descriptions over 3 floors, from luxury brands and snuggly soft cashmere, to heavy duty rope and bright, cheap acrylic, it's all there. This yarn came from a section where everything was sold by weight, I think it was something like a couple of pence per gram.
I was quite taken by the turquoise yarn with tiny flecks of pink, orange, blue and purple.

I'm not sure what this yarn would've been created for, (a lot of these cheaper yarns seem to be ends of lines or seconds) maybe it could've been woven for upholstery cloth or something?
When I bought the yarn I only knitted and I had dreams of knitting  a blanket from this yarn. I cast on hundreds of stitches in order to try and make it wide enough without having to sew stripes together. I was planning on creating a plain straight blanket with a moss stitch border. Unfortunately I only ever got about 15cm into it. 
There were many problems. 
I used needles that were probably too small, the yarn was very heavy, carrying all the weight of the blanket on needles was really tricky and the yarn is really rough.
It's a course, tweedy yarn that I think is probably all wool, it's not very soft to be working with.
After giving up my blanket idea, I tried crocheting granny squares but the beauty of the yarn was lost with all the knotty stitches so again this project was abandoned.
Last week, after years of neglect, I found this yarn in my stash and though about pairing it with something else.
No, not a spider, this is a pile of strips, cut from old pairs of leggings.
There are very many projects that I keep coming accross on blogs, ravelry and pinterest that use old t shirts cut up into long strips. I don't ever seem to have spare t shirts that I feel can be cut up though. I use old t shirts to sleep in or to run in, if there's still any life in them I won't through them away.
Leggings, however are different. I wear leggings pretty much every day, and I'm always getting holes in them that can't be repaired, they split across the seams or I fall over and tear the knees, so I've built up a little stock pile of holey old leggings.
I cut them up into strips and am doing this
crocheting over the old leggings with y favourite tweedy yarn to hopefully create a floor rug.

I'm a little further on than in these pictures and I rather like it. It's not completely flat, but I hope when it's finished I can block it and that it'll be something useful.