Visual Overload

Visual OverloadYesterday saw me leaving home at 8am to drive to Unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey to attend Unravel, a 2 day knitting festival.  I only went for one day as I failed to persuade E to be in charge at home for the whole weekend.  He says I spend too much of my life surrounded by yarn as it is, so I guess I was lucky to even escape at all.

Farnham Maltings is a fabulous creative space based in the heart of the lovely Surrey town of Farnham.  It is home to artists’ studios, has a theatre and runs numerous courses and exhibitions.  In its history it has been both a tannery and a brewery. You can read more about its interesting past here.

The 2013 theme was focussed around the Best In Show illustration which was commissioned by Farnham Maltings from Illustrator Amy Blackwell and gorgeous project bags with the image were available to buy.  I of course had to grab one even though I have a trillion project bags already.  Oh well, I can always hide my yarn in it.

My friend H and I started the day doing a two hour workshop on dyeing using dye powders derived from plants and natural sources with the very talented Judy Hardman. You can’t do a huge amount in 2 hours but we got to mix a variety of naturally derived dyes to get different colours

2013-02-23 11.15.31 The yellows along the top were from pomegranate, Fustic, Dyers Broom, Coreopsis

The second row are purples and reds from Logwood, Madder and Lac with the yellow of Weld at the end

The third row shows Teal, Saxon Blue, Logwood Purple (which gives a grey) and Sorghum

We then dyed small skeins of wool and silk using a microwave to fix the colours.  It has definitely enthused me to try more dyeing from plants, both using available powders as well as plants from the garden. A selection of yarns dyed by Judy were on show which were beautiful.  Unfortunately she wouldn’t let me take any of them away 😦

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I love Unravel for its support of independent dyers, pattern designers and small British yarn companies and wasn’t disappointed this year.

I saw my lovely friends Max and Margaret on the Millamia stand and got to have a sneak preview of their latest adult collection Colour Coded which is beautiful and I cannot wait to knit the sweetest 3/4 length sleeve tie neck cardi.  Don’t think Margaret wanted her photo taken!!

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I also got to meet some lovely people who I chat to on Twitter. Danielle who runs A Stash Addict was exhibiting for the first time.

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 I bought a skein of vareigated pink/purple sock yarn to knit a small shawl

And there were some lovely woolly sculptures

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It was a compete overload of visual amazement, a day of joy of catching up with old friend and of seeing new friends.  I was bowled over to meet the very talented designer Ruth of Rock and Purl and Green Triangle Girl who broadcasts the fabulous knitting podcast and blogs at A Playful Day and can’t wait for next year.

Kirsty xx

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Gardening Days are here again

I can’t believe how much I have achieved in the garden over the last few days.  The combination of warmer weather, longer days and a more positive attitude has really made a difference.

When we extended our house 18 months ago we had a patio installed in front of the French Doors at the end of the kitchen.  Because the garden is lower than the house, it had to have a brick wall built under the flagstones and then steps built on three sides down to the lawn.  This made it look quite harsh and hard and so I decided to soften it by planting yew all the way around.  This will eventually knit together into a small formal yew hedge, but at the moment it looks like this:

Untitled I got my lovely Husband to dig the trench last weekend just before it snowed and my Dad helped me this weekend to get the bare rooted plants in.  They had a good layer of horse manure added to the bottom of the trench.  I can tell you, that stunk the car out when I brought it home from the garden centre, and as it was pouring with rain, I couldn’t even have the windows open.  Anyway, I now need to trim  the tops of each yew to roughly the same height and keep it well watered.  Hopefully by next summer it will look more like a hedge.

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While Dad finished off I got some Old Fashioned Sweet Pea seeds into cardboard pots and spent some time in the greenhouse where it was a bit warmer. I will start them off indoors and as soon as they germinate they can go into the cold frame.

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When we built the extension a lot of the garden got trashed and I moved a large number of perennials, roses and shrubs into the veg garden. Most of these have now to either been moved or given away so that we can grow lots of veg again this summer.   I made a start on Saturday by moving a Viburnium Tinus and a Hebe Buxifolia to the borders either side of the back door.  This allowed me to clear out two raised beds which I will be using for potatoes so they have been manured and turned over ready for some Maris Piper tubers to go in in a few weeks time:

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The bed behind them has Asparagus crowns in it which were planted 2 years ago so I’m hoping for a good crop this summer.

Kirsty x

 

Living with Aspergers

THIS IS THE BLOG POST I ENTERED INTO THE http://www.countrywives.co.uk BLOG COMPETITION. IT WAS RUNNER UP AND HAS BEEN PUBLISHED ON THEIR BLOG:

I have thought for a long time about whether to post about how as a family we live with Aspergers Syndrome. Today, I went on a course for parents of children and have come away from it feeling that it is important for me to blog about it; to have a record of what it is, how it affects us as a family both positively and not so and also so that my eldest son, aged 10, who has the diagnosis, has something he can read which is written by me, his Mum and not by a Health Professional or Researcher.

Anyway, the boring blurb bit first, just in case you don’t know anything about it…

Aspergers Syndrome is a form of Autism and is part of a range of disorders under the umbrella of ‘Autistic Spectrum Disorders’.  Children diagnosed with Aspergers tend to be described as the ‘most able’ autistic children.  They are usually educated in main stream schools and do not have as many difficulties with language and learning as other autistic children.  It affects more boys than girls.

The main difficulties they do have are:

  • Socially – They struggle with getting on with people, making and keeping friends and being part of a group. My heart broke when I received an assessment report which had observed my son ‘wandering around the playground’ on his own during the lunch break looking completely lost.  They also tend to have difficulty relating to how other people are feeling which means they can be perceived as selfish or uncaring.  I will never forget the day my son told a workman in our house he was ‘fat’.  The workman left, never to return..or the day he walked into our friend’s house and said ‘it stinks in here’.  I was mortified but to these children, they are simply stating a fact, saying things how they see them.
  • Communication – They struggle with the wider aspects of language  such as understanding body language, people’s facial expressions and tone of voice and they find it hard to give their own body messages too.  They sometimes also find it difficult to put their thoughts into words and at other times they will talk about an area of interest over and over even if you are not interested in the subject.  They are however, unlikely to listen to what you may want to talk about.  So in our house we have lots of endless conversations about the relativity of time (yes truly my 10 year old son knows everything about this) but he never wants to listen to his brother chat about school or me talk about knitting (no surprise there really 🙂 )
  • Rigid Patterns of Behaviour – They can tend to like to arrange or do things in a particular way or have set routines which when changed or broken cause stress and anxiety.  My son struggles with the transitions at school moving from one term to the next, going on holiday somewhere unfamiliar or just going somewhere new.  After every school holiday he develops a stammer or facial tic such as constantly blinking.  This can go on for a number of weeks before it settles, by which time it’s nearly the holidays again.

My son probably showed signs of having Aspergers from an early age..I just didn’t recognise it.  He was my first child and I just thought he was incredibly hard work.  He never played with toys or amused himself; I could never take him to the hairdressers..he would have the most enormous meltdown, the hairdresser would say that she couldn’t cut his hair and we would leave the salon.  Eventually he did allow my lovely next door neighbour, who had been a hairdresser before she retired, to cut it as long as she did it very quickly. I am so grateful that I didn’t have to resort to cutting it while he was asleep; he would have ended up with scarecrow hair 🙂  Now he still doesn’t like the hairdressers but he will go as long as he doesn’t have to have too much cut.  He also does not like having his nails cut as he says it hurts.  Lots of children with Aspergers display these hypersensitivites to sound, light, smell, and texture which can cause them problems with eating food.  He also hated getting new shoes or putting on new clothes when he was little and his tantrums could last for 2 hours over putting on his coat.  Eventually I used to sit and read a book while I waited for him to ride it out.

Now he’s older, we don’t have tantrums and it is easier to reason with him about why he needs to do certain socially acceptable things such as showering, washing hair and changing clothes regularly.  He doesn’t see the point but understands that to be part of society you need to do these things.  However, we are hitting puberty and he has become very argumentative and gets very angry, so we are now facing battles over homework which he sees as belonging to his school day and not something to be undertaken at home. Those with Aspergers tend to live their life in separate compartments and find it difficult when things lap over between these various aspects of their day to day lives.  He has also always struggled with friendships; we have never had friends over from school and he struggles in groups.  He gets called ‘weird’ at school and appears eccentric because he wants to talk about some of the most off the wall subjects.  However, he has recently become friendly with a boy in his class and I hope that when he moves up to High School where the peer group is much larger he will find his niche.

He is also the most loving boy with a strong sense of what is right and wrong, extremely bright and a very talented violin player.  Life will always be more difficult for him that most of his peer group but I know that with our help and support he will hopefully thrive and be happy.

Further information is available through the National Autistic Society who can also put you in touch with local groups that can offer support. Their website is

http://www.autism.org.uk

Steel Works Shawl

This week I completed my ‘Steel Works’ Shawl.  The pattern is Holden by Mindy Wilkes and it is a free pattern on Ravelry:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/holden-shawlette

An amazing 5,483 people have knitted this shawl and although I’m not usually one to follow the crowd I love the simplicity of the lace design which is easy to memorise but looks fabulous.  The picot edging also adds another edge of interest, although it took a lot of pins to block out each of those points!

Holden Shawl in my own hand dyed yarn I dyed the yarn myself in shades of silver and slate dye, varying the intensity of the dye bath by adding more water or dye powder until I was happy with the 4 colours.  The dye powder came from the lovely Linda at Tall Yarns n Tales.   I dyed one 100g skein in the main silver grey, and then split another skein into 35g balls and dyed them separately, so that I didn’t waste yarn or have too much left over.

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This shawl would be a great lace project for a beginner as the main body is stocking stitch and the lace border is not difficult to master.  I did the border in three separate colours but the shawl would look just as good in one solid colour or just with the border in contrasting or complimentary colour to the main body.  Oh the possibilities!!!

Kirsty xx

Such Very British Behaviour

After another rude encounter with a delivery driver this afternoon when I ended up apologising for him being unable to find our house even though he had the correct postcode, I am sitting here feeling really cross with no one to shout at except for the dog or the children which is hardly fair when none of them have done anything wrong (for once).

It has got me thinking about the occasions when people may take their frustrations out on us and we just stand there and take it….One of the accounts I follow on Twitter is @SoVeryBritish and it tweets about those Very British Problems we can all relate to such as ‘saying you’re pleased with your haircut despite the deep inner sadness it’s causing you’ and always apologising for everything even when it is clearly not your fault, such as when you don’t like food in a restaurant but instead of complaining you mutter ‘Sorry I’m not that hungry’ as the waiter removes your plate. You then make it worse by paying the full bill as well as leaving a tip.

So today was a classic example of such behaviour..I order a TV through Amazon which is fulfilled by a 3rd Party who do not put our whole Amazon Database address on the delivery note; the delivery driver struggles to find us, even though he has been here before and he shouts at me saying I had not given my full address or a contact telephone number  and he had wasted an hour and a half trying to find the house.  He shakes his pen at me in a threatening way and I apologise profusely.  Only when I get back into the house and he has gone on his merry way do I think that there are only 6 houses in my Postcode and even if he had knocked on each of the doors it would not have taken him more than 10 mins.

Why did I not have this witty riposte at the ready when confronted or maybe I should have stuck my knitting needles up his nose.

And there also seems to be a theme with me and Postal/ Parcel workers. Once I was told by a Postman that I had too many brochures and  glossy magazines delivered and that I should think about cancelling some of them as they were a pain to deliver.  Once again I apologised and said I would look into it (he was a particularly grumpy character) when I had no intention of doing such a thing given that most of them were sent to me without asking and the rest I actually enjoyed flicking through over a cup of tea  What I really wanted to say was ‘It’s got nothing to do with you, if I do get 4 copies of the Boden Catalogue every other week..would you like to try getting your name removed from mailing lists or trying to get companies to recognise they are sending multiple copies of the same literature to one address’.  Instead I smile sweetly and apologise.

And it was the same when he bumped into the side of my car while reversing down the lane at top speed just as I was pulling out of our driveway.  Again,  I found myself apologising and saying ‘Don’t worry..it’s only a small dent’.

But in the end, I have decided that I would rather continue to be this way safe in the knowledge that I haven’t got embroiled in a slanging match or lost control.  As they say:

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