Saturday, 21 March 2015

It's a funny old business

Today I had a stall at a Made in Yorkshire craft fair organised by friends of the local primary school.   Being new to the area I wasn't too sure what to expect but it was well advertised, with professional posters around the town, and in addition to the craft stalls there was to be a cafe, craft room for children, face painting, Easter egg tombola, sounded like lots of fun.
Firstly when I arrived my table was right at the back of the large room in a corner partial concealed by another stall.  I did manage to move my table to a more prominent position with the help of an adjacent stall holder who agreed nobody puts baby in a corner, OK he didn't say that but I couldn't resist.  
The fair was well attended though I got the impression mostly by mothers of the pupils and their immediate family who were treating it as a social event more than a shopping opportunity. Everyone was very complimentary about my knitting, happy to chat and handle the goods but very few people were interested in buying.  My little baby socks particularly got lots of praise but even at £2 a pair I got no sales.    Speaking to other crafters they felt much the same and we were all a bit disappointed with our day.  Nothing to do with the quality of the items, there were some lovely things, if I didn't already have masses of lovely cotton tote bags, toilet bags, felted bags etc I could have bought plenty more and been delighted with them.  
Maybe there is a limit to how many egg cosies complete with creme egg people want to buy in a lifetime and the public is becoming crafted out.   I don't make egg cosies but I thought we'd always need socks. Apparently not, I sold one pair and one pair of gloves, I won't be appearing on Dragons Den any time soon. Incidentally my neighbouring stall holder, a nice young cabinet maker who had some beautiful wooden items sold only two clocks and one of those was to his mother.  

Monday, 16 March 2015

Going going gone

I can't remember if I have mentioned before that next month my brother and sister in law, Chris and Val,  give up the tenancy of the farm that has been in our family since my great great grandfather moved from another farm in the same village.  Preparation for this move has been taking place for many months clearing outbuildings and running down livestock, at the weekend this all culminated in their farm sale, an auction of everything imaginable from buckets to the combine harvester.    
We travelled to the farm on Friday to be there for the sale on Saturday morning to find everything beautifully displayed either in barns or in surrounding fields, family and friends had helped with washing and polishing, it was amazing.  
Friday was viewing day and there was a buzz of people asking questions, starting engines, checking and testing.  Saturday by the time the sale started there were a good few people but the numbers kept growing and growing, the sale started with the smallest items and ended with the largest by which time the parking field was full to capacity.
I won't go into detail but the bidding was fast and exciting with mostly excellent prices achieved. I watched many things I remembered from my childhood being sold, happily much to local people, obviously some tractors and more expensive items  to dealers and some vintage pieces to collectors.  

Only two items did not sell, both of which my brother was happy to keep, and not long after the sale the barns were cleared and vehicles loaded as payment was required immediately and purchases became the responsibility of the buyer.
I'm sure it will be strangely quiet as my brother and sister in law spend their last few weeks on an empty farm but there was certainly no brooding on Saturday evening as 16 of us enjoyed Chinese food, champagne and cake, we chatted till the small hours and my nieces and great nieces all stayed over. We shall all miss being at the farm and its sad that Amelia and Esme have only had a few years to enjoy life there but it's important for Chris and Val to start their well earned retirement and like us they have gone down the admittedly much harder down sizing exercise while they are fit and able.  Onwards and upwards, we are all off to Italy in about 6 weeks once Chris and Val move into their already purchased and newly furnished bungalow.  My brother did say he wasn't sure if he could be away for a whole 2 weeks (for the first time ever), he forgets there will be no animals or arable land or farm security to worry about, it's gone.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Retail Recklessness

Last week a local charity shop was offering 5 paperbacks for £1 and whilst I have plenty of reading material, including several boxes that Mr FF has stored in the loft, I couldn't resist a handful.
When I got home and had a good look through my selection I did realise that I already had one of the books on my shelf.  Anyway I made some good progress, enjoyed reading a couple and returned them and the duplicate to the charity shop.  I then embarked on another which seemed rather familiar and when after a couple of chapters I checked my book of books read it was on the list from several years ago. Fortunately I started this system of recording years ago because quite honestly as soon as a book is finished most of it just disappears from my memory, including the title obviously.
Then the lovely people at Kemps were offering Red Heart sock yarn in red or charcoal at just 99p for 100 g and some how 9 balls quickly arrived at the penthouse.  This perhaps isn't quite as bad as it seems because I have signed up for a Made in Yorkshire craft fair at the local primary school at the end of the month.  I'm not sure how this will turn out, the craft fairs I have been to in the town, at a church and the community centre, have been dreadful.  Nothing I would ever want to buy, knitters offering neon acrylic baby clothes for about £2 each and an almost unpleasant atmosphere.  The school fair will have various activities for Easter, egg painting,  a cafe etc not unlike the fairs I used to attend in Scotland so I'm feeling fairly hopeful.  Besides, no one will know me, if I am an abject failure at least I shall have tried (to get rid of the rather large bag of finished items that is in the spare bedroom and which to I keep adding).

Friday, 27 February 2015

I've never seen Star Wars

As well as being a statement of fact, I haven't seen the film probably never will, my post title is also the name of a BBC Radio 4 comedy programme where celebrities list experiences they've never had, go off to try them and report back with a rating out of 10.  Experiences tend to be those that many people will have had but to the celebrity they are completely new.  The list might include books not read, War and Peace often features, foods never tasted, snails for example, perhaps karaoke or leaning to swim, anything really including once colonic irrigation.
Thinking about the programme reminded me of the many mundane experiences I have missed out on but have no desire to try.
I've never knitted a toe up sock, or a top down jumper, though I have knitted many complicated patterns including a sideways produced cable jumper not unlike the Vogue one below and an extremely complex Celtic knot patterned one, in both cases for other people. 

These days I'm so comfortable with the small challenge of a bit of pattern on a sock and actually enjoy churning out pair after pair of plain ordinary ones.
I've never tried skiing although with a group of friends I did sign up for lessons on an indoor dry ski slope.  One look at the gradient and the planks I was expected to use to get down convinced me that it wasn't a sport I would enjoy. I've never played bridge either and though I tried it once I don't play golf, all three activities are almost compulsory in this building.
I've never changed a plug, I did gen up on how to do it in case of emergency but it seemed such a dangerous activity with the possibility of the wires being not quite right that I've never tackled it.  
I've never reverse parked my car.  Mr FF tried to teach me but I didn't really get it.
When I use a car park I tend to find what I call a drive through spot, one with two rows of spaces where you can drive across the first into the second and are ready for an exit without even having to reverse.    I'd happily walk half a mile across the car park in exchange for a drive through while Mr FF prefers to drive round for half an hour and then negotiate the most impossible space just to be near the entrance.
I don't beat myself up about these non-experiences, I've had plenty of others I've loved and I don't think I'd ever want to go on the radio programme, unless of course they offered to fly me in a private jet with Johnny Depp to visit the Clooneys at their villa on Lake Como, which counts as 4.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Knit me a rainbow

Amelia, my 5 year old great niece and her family were here a week or so ago and very impressed with our new home and our new town. Amelia immediately noticed my green scarf knitting, though luckily not the shape of the yarn, asked if she could have a go and if I could knit her a scarf too.  Of course I could, though her list of the preferred colours, about 8 including silver, was a bit daunting for someone who hates stitching in ends.  She had a good root in my stash and selected some yarns but they were so mismatched in ply and content I couldn't really put them together.
I solved that problem when I found in my LYS a 150 g ball of Regia sock yarn, I already had in mind this simple one row ZickZack pattern.
At the end of the week we were down at my brother's and Amelia and family arrived, she immediately spotted my knitting and exclaimed 'my beautiful scarf'. When I asked her how she knew it was for her she said because it contained all the colours she wanted, she held it to her neck and declared it amazing.  She then encouraged me to get knitting and enjoyed unwinding the changing coloured yarn for me.
It's finished now and I shall post it to her tomorrow, just in time for the forecast cold weather.  
Amelia has also asked me to kit a hat, gloves, a cardigan and a dress, meantime she is very keen to learn to knit herself and has asked for a knitting set instead of a chocolate egg this Easter.    Impressed, I am delighted and hope that having a missed a generation, her mother and her aunt, the love of knitting may continue in our family.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Mr FF told me not to post this

Continuing to knit up the stash, I started using a sizeable quantity of an unknown but very soft fine yarn to make Tender, a pretty scarf pattern by Maanel that is a free Ravelry download.  The wool was sort of cone shaped but without the usual central cardboard core.
It's always interesting how yarn unwinds, I am delighted when a simple cake of fibre reveals intricate winding patterns, and always cross when the middle of a cake unravels and gets mixed up with the leading thread.
However, I have never seen yarn unwind like this before, someone has a sense of humour or is it just me.
Any comments may need to be moderated.

Friday, 6 February 2015

February reductions

I really have been eating up the stash, socks, scarves, wash clothes, I've posted off gifts of finished items and put some yarn into the charity shop.  I have gone from a large wicker hamper and a wooden chest plus the bottom of the airing cupboard's worth of wool to just the first two containers that are now less than crammed full.  The fact we don't have an airing cupboard here might have been the incentive to move so much yarn.
However, I had a slight back when I sorted out some balls of New Lanark dk that I'd bought previously in packs of 10 x 50g balls direct from the mill which wasn't so far from where we lived.  I'd made Mr FF a couple of jumpers and had enough balls left over to knit another one. The yarn came in plastic bags, one of which had disappeared, with no ball bands or indication of dye lots and in my innocence I assumed they were all the same. 
I happily knitted away in front of the telly in the evenings and it wasn't until I was blocking the pieces in daylight that I realised there is a slight variation in colour. If I'd realised I could have made the sleeves in one shade the body in the other but in fact I have produced an interesting patchwork effect.   It's not that noticeable, I'm sure we will get away with it and Mr FF isn't in the slightest bit concerned he's just pleased to have another warm jumper.
I then had a downsizing set back this week when two of my local charity shops were selling books for 50p. I had been making good progress reading and returning my paperbacks but this price cut represents about 20 cm of shelf space and a couple of months of reading.  Great bargains in a good cause how could I not bring them home.