Monday, June 10, 2013


This week I learnt a new skill: weaving on a wire warp.  Melinda Berkowitz was running a workshop as part of the textile festival at the Warner Textile Archive.  First we hammered in tacks to make a simple loom.  Then we wound the warp around the tacks.  After that it was child's play to weave yarn of different textures, using a tapestry needle.

 Here, I'm aiming at a beach landscape, and have incorporated a piece of beach glass to add authenticity.  It's not finished yet of course, but I am quite pleased with it.  I say "Quite pleased" because I am struck by my lack of visual memory when I start something like this.  Does the sand get darker or lighter to give an illusion of distance?  I should have used a photograph as a guide.

Saturday to Cambridge, which is an hour's drive away.  When I was eighteen I had an interview for admission to Newnham.  I clearly remember wandering around the open market in the centre and seeing a stall selling sheepskins.  I remember buying a pair of blue tights, which I was very fond of.
Cambridge is still a delight for a little light browsing, as the presence of so many students  - and tourists - fosters all knds of arty shops which you don't see elsewhere.

Everywhere you look are little architectural details from older times.

And, of course, there are lots of lovely places to eat - my favourite being Michaeljohn, a converted church.  This is a theme we've been seeing a lot recently.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Norwich 2

When we visited Norwich late last year, we promised ourselves that we would repeat the trip.  This Wednesday we took the train again, starting out with a visit to Strangers' Hall.  The "strangers" in question were Flemish weavers, arriving in medieval times.  The museum now includes a veritable warren of rooms, beginning with a hall in the ancient sense of a large room open to the roof.

Through the building, rooms are furnished to match different periods of the house's occupation, from the 14th century vaulted undercroft onwards.  This fine walnut cabinet was in a room of 17th century inlaid furniture.  There was a Georgian drawing room and a Victorian nursery.  We found it fascinating.

By then it was lunch-time and we had booked at Jamie's Italian, which is in the Art Nouveau Royal Arcade.  Apart from the service, which was very slow for lunch-time, we enjoyed it very much.  Even simple bruschetta had lovely fresh ingredients and a lemony dressing.  Nor was it over-priced.

Everywhere you look in Norwich there is something interesting to see.  What about this little survivor, standing alone?

A cinema converted from some ancient buildings.

The wall of the house next to the Bridewell Museum, faced with shaped flints.

Knitting on the Star Leaves Shawl continues apace now that I am beyond the chevron of nupps.  These are clearly a key feature of Estonian lace, and lovely when they work out.  However, it is all to easy to miss a thread or two when purling them all together, and jolly difficult to put right.  My plan is to secure any messy ones at the finishing stage, which has worked for me before.

I am moving through the lace leaf section, and here the logic of lace, where the stitches sitting on the needle dictate what must be to happen in that row, makes for a very satisfying time.  I have discovered that it is possible to listen to the archive of "Desert Island Discs" on i-player - U.A.Fanthorpe - classic English songs, Vikram Seth - his own translation of an 8th century Chinese poet set to music, Alice Walker - highly emotional contemporary pieces ... absolutely fascinating.