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35 Half way

Back in January I shared a list of 15 (of the many) things that I hoped to achieve in 2015. Now we're half way through the year I thought you might like an update, of sorts (with apologies for its length, and a suggestion ... if you only watch one of the videos embedded here make it the last one).

February should have included a Decemberists gig and a visit to Manchester's newly refurbished Whitworth Art Gallery to see an exhibition of 'historic and contemporary textiles with an environmental edge'. It didn't. We failed to secure tickets for the former, and the latter ... 18,000 people headed to the Whitworth on the weekend it reopened, most of them hoping to see Cornelia Parker's solo show. Parking was reported to be a nightmare and the queues horrendous, we decided to stay away. The Decemberists were the greater loss methinks ...

In March I didn't make it to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. Let's just say there was a diary clash and I'm a dork. So, having also missed this year's Wonderwool and Woolfest, 'Yarndale or bust' will be my mantra come September. Which is also the month in which we hope to visit Compton Verney for The Arts and Crafts House: Then and Now exhibition and the World Museum, Liverpool, for Maya: The Revelation of an Endless Time. If I'm honest, we're unlikely to manage both.

Also on my list was a summer visit to Gawthorpe Hall, home of the Kay-Shuttleworth textile collection. On May 5th Gawthorpe Hall closed to visitors for the remainder of the year. Are you beginning to sense a theme here? Fingers crossed I'll make it to the Bradford College Textile Archive in the autumn, to take a gander at the Society of Dyers and Colourists Collection.

What else? I'm still waiting on the release date for Sanctity of Space, but I can offer you a taste of what's to come via's preview, which includes a short video. Caller Herrin has been relegated to sometime/maybe, given the quantity of grandbaby knits I have pending and my injury limited knitting time. The lacto-fermented sauerkraut was an unbloggable fail - don't go there people, just don't - and the orangdow - an early form of 'marmelade' which combines oranges and quince - is waiting on the quince season. The tied quilt hasn't happened, yet, and it may only be lap sized when it does. And Holy Moly and the Crackers ... I find myself short of superlatives that would do the band justice!

Which just leaves Landmarks - the publication of which I was eagerly awaiting back in January, along with that of Field Notes from the Edge, and Rising Ground in paperback (linked to via the images at the top of this post) - and Waysides, my natural dyeing collaboration with Rebecca. And there's a theme here too ... these are, so far, the two '15 in 15' successes, and the catalysts for much else. Without Waysides I wouldn't have spent two days in the company of the lovely Dail (Behennah), such a generous mentor, who got me thinking anew about art and craft and what they are and what they aren't. And without Landmarks I wouldn't have finally understood that everything I do and have done is always about the words and the knowing that follows from them; and about the story, most particularly the stories of places and plants and people**. Of which more some other time.

Another of my intentions for 2015 was to reply to your comments in the comments threads. Mostly that's working, sometimes it doesn't, but please know that even when I don't reply, or am tardy doing so, I do read and very much appreciate everything you add to the conversation.

And in similar vein, the latest glitch here ... without any help from me all the redirects have been deleted, meaning that there are now a fair few broken links dotted about the place. My apologies. I'm doing my best to fix things but I may well just give up (finally) and move to another platform. I do hope you'll follow me if I do.

* I loathe sharing YouTube videos with ads but I had no choice here, neither features on Vimeo. For an ad-free viewing experience visit The Decemberists and Holy Moly's websites.

** I guess my last post was a demonstration of this.

As always, there are no sponsored links among the many in this post.


58 The Colour Collaborative: June: Found

Blue found texture, David Gunter

I'm a dyer, this should have been easy, I 'find' colour - via the dye plants that yield it - almost every day. But I decided to eschew the obvious and make things harder for myself ... I went hunting for colours in my earliest dye books, and found thirteen blues.

It is an ancient custom among dyers to reckon on thirteen shades of blue, from the deepest to the lightest. Although their denominations be somewhat arbitrary, and that it is impossible exactly to fix the just passage from one to the other, I shall notwithstanding give the names. They are as follow, beginning with the lightest:

very deep or navy-blue

Elijah Bemiss, The Dyer's Companion, 1806

Eytmologically watchet blue is perhaps the most interesting of them.

A parish clerk in Chaucer's The Miller's Tale (c.1390) is 'yclad ... al in a kertell of a liht vachet', or wachet, or watchet, or even waget, depending on which manuscript you consult.

If you Google 'watchet blue' you'll most likely find some reference to coloured alabaster visible in the cliffs near Watchet on the Somerset coast, demonstrating how easily the interwebs disseminate misinformation. You might also find the suggestion that 'watchet' derives from 'woad', and that's certainly possible, maybe even probable. But the Reverend Walter W. Skeats (1885) dismisses both propositions as "so bad" that he "ventures to make [another]".

According to Skeats 'watchet' derives, via vachet, from "the curious old French word vaciet, a bilberry [Vaccinium myrtillus] ... applied both to the fruit and the dye", and he quotes from various French language texts that support this. As a dyer rather than a lexicographer it all makes perfect sense to me. And I suspect my dear friend Sonia would agree ... to see the results of her bilberry dye experiments follow the link and scroll down.

Or, if you've mastered time travel, you could ask Good Queen Bess ...
Item, one peticoate of watchet or blew satten, embroidered all over with flowers and beasts, of Venice golde, silver, and silke, like a wildernes.

Inventory of Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe, 1600

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...

CJ at Above the River

Sandra at Cherry Heart

Sarah at Mitenska

Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.


35 Yarn Along

Image of knitting yarn and needles left on top of a magazine.

Transitions. They begin with an ending, end with a beginning, and between the two lie much doubt and ambiguity. That inbetween is where I'm at just now, writing my way through it, publicly in part*, because writing's what I do. But enough of that ... thank you muchly for your recent forbearance ... now, let's move on.

It really is entirely coincidental that my current reading** is focussed on change. Hole & Corner celebrates traditional skills, craftsmanship, and the handmade. British at its core it also situates the 'doers' it describes in the landscapes that nurture them, wherever those may be. Interview, memoir, and life story are its bread and butter, as are exquisitely observed photographs of people, their workplaces, and the things they make.

Also on my work table ... Red knobbed knitting needles, one of three pairs in old UK sizes - 9, 10 and 11 - that I paid pennies for at a recent vintage textiles fair. And 200g of natural grey British Gotland 4ply from The Little Grey Sheep, destined to become a Mara or a Spighe di Grano shawl, now that I've wound it. (Help me out here, will ya' ... which do you prefer?)

I could happily only ever knit with undyed wool, I doubt I could tire of its nuances, particularly if it was grey. Likewise I favour unbleached linen. Drab is good. And utility is one of my favourite words. Why make anything more complicated than it needs to be? Don't you agree?

* See this post, and this.

** I'm also continuing to read Jean Giono's Joy of Man's Desiring.

This is a Yarn Along post. As always, the links above are not sponsored.

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