The sound of distant drums

The weather broke spectacularly yesterday with the rumble of thunder, flashes of lightening and a tremendous downpour. Good to watch and listen to but not so great to be caught in! Don’t worry yours truly was visiting a friend for a natter and a cuppa. Lucky because we were there to quickly unpeg her washing and bring it in. But it’ll take more than a bit of rain to dampen my spirits ‘cos today is a drumming day!

I started hand drumming back in the early ’90s when I took my children along to workshops run by Alan ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. It heralded a wonderful time in our lives when we joined in many community ventures and I met my good friend and community arts mentor B.  Together B and I helped form a local drumming group and went on to run drum circle workshops as On A Roll all over Cumbria. Today – after many years of hauling drums about the county – B and I meet up with a couple of other kindred spirits, Ph and R,  to form Uz4 a quartet of happy drummers. It is always a treat. We have drummed together for so long that we often anticipate individual changes of drum rhythm so complimenting each others playing. Of course there is always food (you are beginning to see a pattern here!), very good conversation and some laughs.

Happy day!  Although sorry R couldn’t make it. So strictly speaking we were Uz3.

It was also a ‘swopsie’ day as B gave me two of her hand made books in return for some crochet (can’t say exactly what I made as I think they may be gifts so don’t want to spoil the surprise).  Aren’t B’s books beautiful? DSCN0389

Finally one to look out for…. DSCN0375

A friend of B’s Julian Hyde is putting on an exhibition of his work to aid the local food bank. His atmospheric photos and the stories that spring from them are a wonderful illustration of what can happen when you wander the backroads.

Night night.

Am-bliss-ee-dee

Here’s ‘Red’ so I must be at a different library today.

DSCN0351Ambleside here I come. The journey from Kendal to Ambleside has to be one of the prettiest commutes in the world so on a sunny morning it’s a great way to start the day and when I learn how to take panoramic views I’ll capture some images for you.

I love the way this route has so many facets. From the Lakeland Fells opening up before you to the tree lined tunnels that suddenly give way to a lakeside stretch of road before you turn into the busy honeypot ‘village’ of Ambleside. Right in the middle opposite the bus station is the library.

Even the buses look prettier…DSCN0356

When it gets to lunchtime I can go for a little look-see.

One final photo for my daughter…she’ll understand why!

Marmots, a little memory for the chalet girl.

Marmots, a little memory for the chalet girl.

Tomorrow how I needle-felt a Dodo (ooch!). Night night.

Rugby in the library whatever next?

Yes truly there was rugby in the library today. Author Tom Palmer visited to run a family sports quiz and for every question a team answered correctly they got to kick the ball (an odd shaped one so it must be rugby right?) over the posts (?) – sorry if my lack of sporting knowledge is showing. Tom was excellent and both young and old(er) people had fun answering questions and talking about the books, magazines and newspapers they like to read, the sports they enjoy, and the teams they follow. Kendal was Tom’s first port of call in his ‘Try Reading’ tour of 42 (!) libraries so at least for the morning Kendal Library will be at the top of his leader board for tries (???) scored.  It was great to see families having such a good time with the very entertaining Mr Palmer.

Back to my comfort zone…

Spike Milligan wrote:

String is an important thing, rope is thicker but string is quicker

and it certainly is for making bottle bags (especially when you’ve run out of dishcloth cotton).

The pattern for this bag comes from that old favourite “Crochet Unravelled” by Claire Bojczuk. It has proved one of my most useful patterns over the last few hot and sunny weeks. I love the symmetry of the stitches on the strap. Very satisfying.

And after that happy bit of crocheting, time to say ‘Night night’.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here

The Summer Reading Challenge gathers pace with hundreds of children already taking part in Kendal alone! After a couple of sessions with two community artists local children have decorated the library with their own ghoulish creations…brace yourselves here they come…

We’ve even got bats in our belfry!

Now if all that is too much for us faint hearted grown-ups we can always escape upstairs where my friend and colleague AW has placed some beautifully scented sweet peas and roses, thoughtfully cut from her garden before the burst of heavy rain yesterday could damage their delicate petals. Sorry these can’t be in smell-a-vision.

Finally  just a few words to say thank you to all my friends for your thoughtful birthday wishes. Its been a lovely day but with a busy one to come – children’s author Tom Palmer is visiting the library – its time to turn in. Night night.

Aunty O celebrates 90 years!

Two cake stands down I just managed to snap this third before we finished off the last cakes, puddings and scones - the sandwiches had already gone.

Two cake stands down I just managed to snap this third before we finished off the last delicious cakes, puddings and scones – the sandwiches had already been scoffed.

“Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday  Aunty Oh-Ohhhh, Happy Birthday to you!” It’s not everyday that you get to celebrate a 90th birthday. Today was one of those special days. And how great it was to get together with my small but beautifully formed family for afternoon tea in the sunshine overlooking Lake Windermere raising a cup and a tasty treat to Aunty O.

I’m beginning to think that cousins are like buses: you don’t see one for ages then three come along together. Me, A and JL. Well done Aunty O for performing this minor miracle by inviting us to Lindeth Howe to share the afternoon with you. Let’s hope these family get-togethers are becoming a habit.

But what to get the birthday girl? The flowers were beautiful. And water, replaced by these ‘jelly’ balls, sooooo yesterday.

I really didn’t know what to get so I did what I usually do. I turned to crochet. Each to their own. This gave birth to Aunty’s present Part 1.

Aunty O has always been a keen gardener (mental note – do more gardening) so I thought I’d go with a flowery theme.

Now I think they are lovely but I’m biased and I’m not sure they are really what a nonagenarian (it really does mean someone that’s 90 – I looked it up) wants. Time for Aunty’s present Part 2.

Coupled with a nice soap this could be the one! Phew.

Night night all.

P.S. I so liked the Daisy Facecloth that I got up bright and early and made one for myself!

Day off

The Summer Reading Challenge is now in full swing and Thursday saw me talking in assembly at lovely Levens School. Levens is a friendly village school and as they were my last school visit the children were ‘lucky’ enough to have the chance to smell this year’s pungent stickers. I finished my talk to choruses of “poooh”, “erghhhhh”. Think they liked them.

The playground has the most glorious view but my photographic skills didn’t do it justice. Must try harder.

Today I had a morning at home catching up with those jobs I put off as long as possible but in the afternoon I caught the bus into town to deliver my needle-felted dodos to Kendal Museum. I’ve talked about it often enough so I remembered to take my camera and took some photos for you.

Pleased to see that my crafts – Moke’s Makes – have been released from the confines of the glass cabinet and are spread out amongst the wonderful goodies made by local craftspeople.

Couldn’t let a day off go without some crochet. I often use long craft pipe cleaners in making needle felted bracelets. I wondered how they would work with crochet. I formed the pipe cleaner into a circle – making sure it would fit over my hands – and bound it together with some yarn. Then using a chunky multi-coloured yarn I double crocheted around the pipe cleaner circle. I then played about with creating ‘petals’ in the front and then the back loops. The ‘pattern’ could do with a little more work and a mix of colours would be fun but I’m pleased with the prototypes.

With all the blues I think they look like a strange jelly fish.

I know I’m British and obsessed with the weather but “Phew what a scorcher!”. Night night.

Comfort blanket

Having been averse to technology I had to question my sudden rush to blog and I think I have hit on why I turned to my keyboard. It was the end of Wool ‘n’ Stuff a group of  local woolly people to which I belong…sniffle…belonged…Let me tell you a little bit about this marvelous group of craft-y women.

The initial impetus to set up Wool ‘n’ Stuff had been to explore wool crafts in the ambient surroundings of Kendal Museum. The museum was facing hard times, even the threat of closure and we hoped to lend it some moral support. We gathered for the first time in the autumn of 2006 to the strains of Viking music – creating the mood for the ancient Scandinavian craft of tablet weaving – in the midst of medieval and Roman artefacts and since then we have continued to celebrate the woolly textiles that are our Cumbrian heritage, after all ‘Pannus Mihi Panis’ (“Wool is my Bread”).

While based at Kendal Museum each activity was run by a Wool ‘n’ Stuff member and between us we covered tablet weaving, drop spinning, knitting, and prodded rag-rugging. In addition the owner of  ’Spinning A Yarn’ from Ulverston  visited us and gave a wonderful talk on the History of Knitting. Did you know there is a North-South (class) divide in how you hold your knitting needles? Apparently Northern working knitters like the Knitters of Dent who knitted to earn a living kept one needle firmly tucked under their arm while ‘middle class’ Southern hobby knitters  knitted with both needles free. Being a born and bred Northerner my mother always clamped one needle tightly under her armpit. Consequently I do the same…but I have yet to earn a penny from knitting!

The museum remained safe but at the time a reduction in staff and hours meant we had to find a new home which we did in Kendal Library where we resided for a couple of sessions – looking at different fleeces  and holding a quiz on our woolly friends. So many breeds of sheep! Unfortunately we are a mucky lot and sought out our next venue the YWCA because we could branch out into the messier crafts of natural dying, felting (textile artist Annie Coxey visited us for this one), and tye dye.

In our YWCA home we held sessions on easy-weaving, tubular tablet weaving, hooked rag rugging, spinning wheels and crotchet. Thanks to The Brewery Arts Centre we were supplied with marvelous teachers and three funded sessions through their ‘Motto’ (you remember “Pannus mihi Panis”?) project.

When building work meant another move we found ourselves in the grand surroundings of Kendal Town Hall and finally we have been ensconced in the Art Room of Castle Street Community Centre where we could again indulge ourselves with wet wool crafts like felting and its beautiful cousin Nuno felting.

Wool ‘n’ Stuff-ers are a smashing bunch. Each session has been rich with laughter and probably more biscuits than are good for us. It’s been a privilege me dears.Flowers, yarns and wreath2

During our years together we created a beautiful handmade archive. Our felt covered  book is currently being brought up to date. Once it is looking its complete best I’ll take some photos to show you. So watch this space.

I don’t know if the end of Wool n Stuff has anything to do with this but I’ve started a ‘comfort blanket’.

Crochet is relaxing – most of the time – working round and round and round an ever growing granny square is almost meditative and starting this blanket has kept me sane over the last week. In using up my stash I am hoping to have a snuggly cover ready for the chilly winter nights.

Meanwhile back in ‘sunny Cumbria’ (yes summer’s still here) it was a very strange morning. As I toddled in to the library there was something special in the air, shops were open that would usually be closed for at least another hour, the town was very spick and span and the good folk of the Auld Grey Town were gathering along Stricklandgate.

I don't think this was meant for me!

I don’t think this was meant for me!

Bunting was everywhere,

Flying the flag in Elephant Yard.

Flying the flag in Elephant Yard.

So who was it all for? The Queen and Princess Anne who visited Kendal today (thanks to ST for taking the photo for me).

And the Queen seemed happy to be here!

And the Queen seemed happy to be here!

It all felt very jolly. And it continued to be very jolly as I was invited out to lunch with a couple of my bestest buddies. It was well worth the climb…Stoney Lane

No need for the comfort blanket tonight. Sleep tight.