Wimbledon

We spent Wednesday last week watching tennis at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon.

I watched my first match on TV in 1972. The Wimbledon mens’ final was due to be played on Saturday 8th July. It rained and play was delayed until Sunday. I was still at school and had a Saturday job so it was pure chance that I was at home when Stan Smith beat Illie Nastase. My love affair with tennis started that day.

You can’t buy a ticket for Wimbledon by popping on to Ticketmaster and picking ‘best available’ seats. We bagged tickets for the first time in 1994 on (the old) number one court and the method for obtaining tickets hasn’t changed in the 25 years since then.

In a nutshell you fill in an application form which gets you into the hat for tickets. If your name gets drawn you are allocated two tickets on a specific court for one day of the championships.

It has been a ‘paper and postal’ system until this year but it will be moving on-line for the 2020 championships.

That visit, in 1994, was special. Everything was so thrilling: so new: so different to watching from my front room. I loved every minute. A once in a lifetime experience, or so I thought at the time.

As it turned out we were incredibly lucky to get tickets for four subsequent years. We had lovely weather and great matches. We had boring matches and showery days. In a cold and miserable 1998 it rained for all but an hour. It is fair to say that after five years we were a bit jaded so we called it a day.

Nearly 20 years later it was time for a return visit. After two unsuccessful years in the ballot, here we were again, settling in to our seats on number two court.

For the first time we chose to stay outside London. We drove down to Woking on Tuesday and stayed in a small hotel. The train Journey into Wimbledon station is only 30 minutes and it seemed a lot less stressful than Kings Cross to Southfields on the underground.

It was a lovely sunny day – sunscreen and sunglasses weather. Hats too. I had my old faithful straw hat which usually only accompanies me on holidays. Mike’s ‘sun hat’ is a baseball cap bought during one of our Wimbledon visits all those years ago. We searched everywhere but couldn’t find it so he sat, hatless, through five hours of tennis with the sun beating down. His head was OK but his thighs between knees and top of shorts turned a worrying shade of pink. He bought a new hat but by that time the sun was setting behind us. We have put it somewhere safe for next year.

We treated ourselves to strawberries and cream for the first time. We were happy with our £2.50 portions. I understand Aldi had been in the queue, giving out freebies, to highlight the extortionate price Wimbledon charges. Personally I thinks it’s a better deal than £2 for a bottle of water at Leeds Arena. Anyway if you don’t want to pay you can take your own. Picnics are allowed.

There are particular things that make each visit different from the rest. This year has its own particular memories. We had great seats, lovely weather and a fabulous match between Stan Wawrinka and Reilly Opelka. Obviously there are seats, weather and tennis every year but when we look back, what will set this year apart are the two Polish friends sitting next to me and the mother and son behind.

The Polish women were Stan fans and his five set match certainly gave them opportunities to cheer him on. †††

The rambunctious couple behind us were in the opposition camp, (“Come on Reilly!”) or were they? After the match, when I turned to congratulate them, they admitted they had no idea who either player was. They had picked the tall one!

The next two matches (Simona Halep v Mihaela Buzamescu and Kevin Anderson v Janko Tipsarevic) were never going to live up to the excitement of the first but they were both hard fought. To be honest we were hoping for a quick finish in each, as we were looking forward to Coco Gauff in the fourth scheduled match. Anderson and Tipsarevic were still playing at 7.30pm. so too late for the final match which was moved to number one court.

I had a fabulous day, probably my favourite Wimbledon visit of them all. The Wawrinka/Opelka match was the best we have seen. We had perfect weather and brilliant seats. I’m not sure it can be beaten but we will still try for tickets next year.

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Gardening

I published a short post about our garden in May 2018. Now summer 2019 is here, the garden looms large in my life again.

We moved into our house 27 years ago. It was a new build so the garden was a blank canvas.

I pictured an evergreen sanctuary: all green leaves and berries. Over the years I dug beds, planted conifers and popped in a holly bush or two alongside some other prickly, berried plants. Hubby and I even managed to dig a pond (it was hard work) which is still my pride and joy.

My vision stayed on track for a few years but then it all went to pot! The conifers grew too big, the prickly plants got pricklier and the hollies, struggling for light, refused to produce any more berries.

Our back garden overlooks a motorway. The road cuts between two man-made banks and we sit, with our neighbours, along the top of the bank about 20 metres above the road. On the up side this means we are not overlooked. On the down side it is very noisy.

I don’t know when the traffic noise started to bother me or when the planting became unmanageable. I do know these two things meant being out in the garden, once a pleasure, became a chore. Hubby doesn’t like gardening so I had no expectation that he would take up the mantle. Gradually our little piece of ground, our very own plot of land became an unloved patch of grass surrounded by overgrown shrubs.

There are times when the noise seems so relentless I’m sure I can’t live here any longer. The shrubs are so overwhelming I haven’t known where to start.

At the moment we are not planing to leave this house. Together we have started to tackle the jungle. Maybe, when the planting is under control and the garden is once more the haven I originally envisaged, the noise will fade into the background.

Weaving – random scarf

I’m not going to tell you how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos out there. I’m going to share my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones as I discover the mysteries of loom and fibre.

This is post number seven. You can see my previous posts below.

This scarf was woven on 21st November 2018.

My orderly nature stops me from being very spontaneous so my next project was a bit of a departure for me. 

This was the first time I had someone in mind for the finished scarf – my granddaughter – she is eight years old and is a bit of a rock chick. Well, she was last week but things might have changed by now! The yarn that had given me this idea was originally bought as hair for dolls. Cloth dolls are another of my crafting loves.  I find making them demanding and worth it but they take so long.  

Anyway this means that my wool stash has a lot of wild yarns – witches, fairies and elves have extraordinary hair. 

Once again I didn’t think about measurements and went gung ho at my warping with a plain black acrylic. I chose a tangle of black, left over ‘hair’ for my weft. There were thick and thin yarns: fluffy and smooth yarns: metallic and mat yarns. I’m no maverick and tend towards working with rules. I like there to be a right way and a wrong way and I had to resist the urge to make the scarf uniform. I forced myself to go with whatever fibre came to hand and the finished piece was random, but in a good way. Perhaps my bohemian side is peeping out. 

In the true spirit of my story so far the finished piece is not quite perfect. I didn’t need to worry about selvedges because the edges are intended to be haphazard. My uneven beating doesn’t show. Any skipped stitches are disguised. All good you might say but this scarf is too short (80cm) – even for an eight year old. It’s also a little too wide (20cm). 

When my granddaughter visited I asked her if she liked it. She said she did, but apparently not enough to remember to take it home with her. It’s still here and she hasn’t mentioned it since.

Ah well, it was a good exercise in going with the flow and reinforces the need to consider size before starting a project.

So far I’ve just been playing around. Apart from the loom itself I have spent no money.  I’ve been able to practice using wool I already had and I’m working with the 8.5 dent heddle that came with the loom. 

I feel ready to for my first properly planned project now, but before then, my hubby has asked me to weave four scarves as Christmas presents for his friends.

Weaving – Improvement

I’m not going to tell you how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos out there. I’m going to share my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones as I discover the mysteries of loom and fibre

This is post number six. You can see my previous post here

By this time, after several recommendations, I had bought a second book -Inventive Weaving on a Little Loom.

I’m going to veer off on a tangent here but bear with me as this might be a cautionary tale for you all. My go to place for books is Amazon. I’m not proud of this. It’s lazy. I ought to shop around and at heart I don’t think I should be supporting global organisations. When I tried to buy Inventive Weaving I didn’t seem to able to get through check out without taking up a free three months membership of Prime. Maybe I should have jumped at the chance. After all what’s not to like about three months free but I was annoyed that this was being forced on me when I was simply trying to buy a book.

I searched around for another option and I found the same book at Abebooks.co.uk for £11.28 plus £2.80 postage. Amazon are selling it at £22.00.

Anyway back to the weaving.

My first two scarves were a bit short for my taste so I set up my two warping tables as far apart as I was able within the confines of my conservatory. I did a bit more walking up and down but it helped with my 10,000 steps!

I had one ball of yarn in a colourway I loved: Twilleys of Stamford, Freedom Spirit in variegated pinks, purples and greys. It’s 100% wool so probably from my foray into felted bags.

I was going to try a plaid but I hadn’t considered whether I had enough yarn. I warped the edges in two shades of grey and used the variegated for the middle panel. I finished the variegated section with only a yard or two of wool spare so didn’t have any left for the weft. No problem, I would used plain grey for the weft. My plaid would become stripes.

My iffy warp tension and dodgy separation of warp threads didn’t seem to affect my first two scarves but perhaps this was just beginners luck. Somewhere I’d read that dumbbells attached to the warp, whilst it was being wound onto the back beam, helped with tension. I didn’t have dumbbells to hand – not being the weight training type – but a rummage around in the tool box produced a hefty hammer which was a reasonable substitute.

The weaving went well but about three quarters of the way through, one of my variegated warp threads broke. I had spotted it getting thinner and more delicate and tried to be gentle but it gave up the struggle to survive. Luckily my new book had a section on broken warp threads so, crisis averted. I took a new piece of yarn: tied it to the broken warp thread at the back of the loom: threaded it through the heddle: attached it to the already woven cloth and away I went – very gently. Keeping the new thread at the same tension was tricky but doable, and as I was working in the variegated section, you can hardly see the join.

Being 100% wool when I started to muddle it in warm water the fringe matted together. I panicked, whipped the scarf out and untangled the fringe. The upshot of this was that the rest of the scarf wasn’t long in the bath and didn’t bloom as much as I would have wanted or expected. I’m still happy with end result and I think my selvedges are improving.

Weaving – Cotton

It is not my intention to instruct you on how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plently of blogs and YouTube videos out there which will do that. I’m going to tell you about my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones.

This is post number five about weaving. You can see my previous post here

About a year ago I took up amigurumi. I was taught to crochet by a friend of my mum’s who worked in the village wool shop. I was, perhaps, eight years old at the time. I prefer crochet to knitting because it grows faster but despite its recent increase in popularity I still see it as a little old fashioned.

To cut a long story short I thought my crocheting experience would stand me in good stead when it came to creating some small amigurumi figures for my grandchildren. I was wrong. I couldn’t seem to get the correct number of stitches per row and it was so fiddly!

I have a small stash of cotton yarn (Sirdar cotton double knit) left over from my aborted efforts so I thought for my next weaving project I would see how this performed in my 7.5 dent heddle. I knew it wouldn’t be as forgiving as wool or acrylic so I was hoping it would highlight my shortcomings and help me decide where I needed to put in more work.

I assumed a tea towel or something similar would be what I was aiming for but my one book –  Handwoven Home – seems to have projects for wider looms and finer heddles than mine.

I love this book. My weaving goal is to be able to make textiles for my home and when I finally manage to produce something from Handwoven Home I will feel very pleased with myself.  It will be some time yet I fear.

At this stage – only four projects into my weaving journey – I was still messing about, finding my feet, deciding whether I would be able to produce something acceptable to my perfectionist eyes.  

Undeterred I decided to plough on with the tools in front of me. I had no idea if the yarn was suitable for this heddle but I do have some idea of how a yarn will react with water and I knew this wouldn’t bloom. So, as my warp using one strand seemed a bit – well – gappy, I used two for the weft. Here is the result.

This was my first venture into changing my weft colour and I didn’t really do much research before I started. As you can see I left the yarn hanging at each side intending to sew the ends in later but it’s such a messy piece I’m not sure its worth it. 

It’s a rag but I suppose I could use it for a floor cloth and I like the colours.  Perhaps, with some practice I could produce something acceptable. I’m looking forward to trying again soon. 

This was my first hem stitch and I’d rushed in without checking what I should be doing. I took the piece off the loom before going near it with a needle and the whole thing was unravelling as I tried to hem it. Only afterwards did I realise I should have hem stitched both before and after weaving whilst the cloth was on the loom.

Following on from the hem stitch disaster I cut the fringe on a slant and it got shorter and shorter as I tried to even it up! Luckily I was feeling fairly chilled that day so I was able to laugh about it. 

I’ve learnt a lot from this exercise but it’s back to scarves for the time being and some lovely forgiving wool.

Weaving experiment Gone Wrong!

It is not my intention to instruct you on how to weave using a rigid heddle loom. There are plently of blogs and YouTube videos out there which will do that. I’m going to tell you about my triumphs and disasters, my frustrations and accomplishments, my silly mistakes and my happy ones.

This is my forth post about weaving. You can see my previous post here

I’d followed instructions to the letter and finished a couple of scarves which I was reasonably pleased with. Now I needed to try something for myself. Perhaps I was running before I could walk but if you don’t try you wont know.

A few years ago I decided to have a go at felting a bag. The bag is still lying around forlornly in a cupboard, unused, and missing a handle (I’ve retrieved it for this photo) but I love the way the knitting turned into a felted fabric.

I wondered whether I could do the same thing with a woven scarf but I had no idea how to go about it.

I decided to weave a test piece. I had some 100% wool in my stash. The ‘pull’ test with some black and red wool proved it wouldn’t be strong enough for the warp. But I had some ferociously strong plain black wool.  The strength must be something to do with the way it’s woven. I’ll put this on my need-to-find-out-more list.

As this was just an experimant I wove a piece roughly 73 cm (29 inches) long and 34 cm wide (13 inches). Looking back I wonder why I didn’t make it smaller as it was no use to me that size and I’d wasted a load of wool. Anyway, too late now.

The wool band said ‘hand wash’ so I stuck it in the washing machine on a wool wash. It didn’t shrink at all so I had another go on a 40′ wash and it worked. It worked a little too well. My own fault. I haven’t learnt by a previous, similar, mistake when I was wet felting a cushion cover. The key here is patience. I really should have put on the rubber gloves, ran some water as hot as I could stand and fulled the fabric by hand. That way I could have controlled the amount of felting. Anyway, too late now (again!).

I love the finished effect and the feel of the felt but it’s far too thick for a scarf.  It’s perfect for an autumn or spring coat but at 40 cm (16 inches) x 22 cm (8.5 inches) it might just do for a small dog. 

 Experiment – fail – learn – repeat.

I’m not sure quite what to use it for. I might cut it up, finish the edges and get four coasters out of it. 

                                                                  

                                    

On a positive note I haven’t bought any new yarn. I’m making my mistakes using yarn that was lying around doing nothing and taking up precious storage space. It’s costing me nothing and I’m freeing up space for lovely new yarn which I keep eying up at my local market. 


 


Wednesday

Chatting about the gubbins of my daily life, my rummage through the moments in my day which bring me pleasure.

In the days, weeks and years to come I hope to be able to look back on these posts with fondness. Perhaps you will enjoy reading them.

Christmas is coming!

Sometimes I am so busy enjoying my life that I don’t have time to write about it. That’s got to be a good thing but I do enjoy writing and miss it if I don’t have time.

Our Wednesdays are usually spent doing the morning and evening school runs and food shopping. A couple of weeks ago we had Wednesday off in exchange for extra duties on Thursday and Friday

It turned out to be one of those almost perfect days. Everything had gone to plan and I was feeling happy with my lot.

I’d woven my latest scarf and was pleased with the result. Plain weaving is an easy going sort of craft. It takes a bit of concentration but not too much so my mind can wander off onto other things. It’s not hard physically, and best of all it’s quick. If all goes to plan I can easily finish a scarf in a few hours. 

The Christmas dough shapes I cut out on Tuesday were dry.  I’d had a go at colouring them with felt tips and it worked. Admittedly paint would have covered better but I was hoping I could persuade the grandchildren to go with the felt tips. I get twitchy when the kids get out the paints!

Experience tells me that a really good day has to be balanced somewhere down the line so it doesn’t pay to be too smug or self satisfied.

Anyway on Wednesday night we are all prepared for Thursday and Friday with the kids. 

We have four fabulous grandchildren but we only look after my step-daughter’s three. Our eldest – my step-son’s daughter is older and more than capable of looking after herself.

So we have G who is an eight year old girl and S and L who are five year old twins – a girl and a boy.

Thursday morning was a bit fraught. G was upset because mummy was going away for a few days. She still looked in need of a good cuddle when we got to school. S was also unhappy but soon came round and L decided to get in on the act by insisting his school shoes were too tight and refusing to put them on. I ended up carrying him to the car and putting his shoes on when we got to school. 

After school the dough colouring went down well and we cut out shapes from some new dough to bake later. Then off to the local chippy for a fish and chip tea which was supposed to be a treat. L wanted a hot dog but they didn’t have any and S felt sick so I took her home.

Just a typical day really.

BUT … Friday morning was definately pay back for Wednesday.

Non uniform day at school and nobody could decide what to wear. G was soon sorted but she lulled us into a false sense of security.

S wanted to wear her ballet dress but no tights or cardigan. It was just too cold, but as is the way with children, she refused to engage with me in choosing anything else. After much cajoling and persuasion we settled on a party dress (with long sleeves) and thick tights. All was well.

Now to L – our little boy. He wanted to wear football shorts but grandpa, daddy and I said it was too cold. He chose something else but changed his mind. We had every pair of trousers out of his wardrobe but, no, he was having none of it. With time running out we compromised with shorts over a pair of trousers and his foorball shirt but by this time he had got himself into a state and wouldn’t be consoled. He was still crying when he went into class.

‘Never again’ I said as we finally got in our car to go home for a welcome cuppa.

To Friday afternoon assembly and G was recieving an acheivement award presented in front of the school and parents. S and L also got prizes for spelling and 100% attendance that week. The whole thing was a joy. Everyone was happy and it was the weekend – yey.

By the end of the evening all three children and daddy were at ours for tea. There were toys all over the lounge, paint and glue in the conservatory and half eaten plates of food in the kitchen. 

Ice cream time and we were playing a game that involved thinking of names for letters of the alphabet. All starts off sensibly and we are getting around the alphabet without too much arguing about who said what. We are on to the letter ‘P’. Someone shouts ‘Penny’ and grandpa asks what’s a longer name for Penny. Quick as a flash, with absolute certainty L shouts ‘pound!’. 

Well; we all fell about laughing. You can’t fault his word association can you? I’m guessing you had to be there to appreciate how funny it was but this may well make me smile for many years to come.

After that it developed into chaos with eveyone shouting out any name they could think of. 

‘I’ve got one beginning with C.’

‘but we’re onto R.’ 

‘Well I’ve got one beginning with J.’

‘but we’re onto R – Oh never mind.’

Life’s good.

Todays best bits (4/12/18)

Unexpected walk in the sunshine.  I went to the wrong shop to pick up a parcel and had to walk for another half hour to get to the right place. Its a best bit because it should have been annoying but the longer walk was actually a bonus.

Todays boring bits (4/12/18)

TV – not boring at all actually: Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas: The Christmas Chronicles

Weather – Lovely morning. Cold, clear and sunny. It’s been wet for a few days.

Tea – meatballs and linguine