Saturday, 20 April 2019

Sorting Buttons

I've never got into the popular 'adult colouring books' that came out of nowhere a few years ago. For one, it seems a waste of time - not that I'm against that in principle, I just prefer to have something to show for my wasted time. For two I never could quite get past the 'adult' part. How sad that I think that has undesirable connotations.

Anyhow, instead of filling in a colouring book, I prefer to sort buttons. Doing the colours is the most fun part. After that I might put shanks vs flat buttons together and then two holes vs four holes. By then if I have any matches I can thread them together. But I rarely get that serious, just sorting by colour is usually good enough for me. Very relaxing hobby this!

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Daddy's Birthday

I just realised I don't think about my Dad so much as I once did, which makes me sad. It also seems rather odd since I work at finding his birth father every day for at least a couple of hours. I sometimes get sick of it and feel it is a waste of time but most of the time I'm pretty determined to crack it. I wonder what makes me so obsessed about this. I think it is because I'm trying to replace what someone 'stole' from me. A decade or so ago I had a whole family tree, for at least several generations. Then the woman who snapped an illicit photo at the Minnesota Historical Society came along and 'chopped' my Dad's side away. I'm fighting to get that whole tree back. I think once that's cracked I might go back to having a more normal life, but don't hold you're breath. I only ever manage a faint facsimile of that concept.

I know quite a bit about my Dad's Norwegian mother and she has sparked my interest in Norwegian culture. As it happens, we are learning Fair Isle knitting at one of my craft groups. I subscribe to a newsletter called Craftsmanship and this month one of the articles is about a Norwegian woman, Annemor Sundbo (except that o should have a forward slash on top of it), dubbed 'the sweater detective'. It tells that she approached a man who had a wool mill because she wanted to study the weaving techniques but instead he sold her the mill and along with it came tons (actual tons!) of old knitted items. She studies the patterns in those as well as in old paintings, noting the variation of patterns. She is trying to get the special sheep that were bred for Norwegian wool, said to be especially hard wearing, to be raised again in quantity. 

Three things struck me from this article. First, her passion for all things wool and where that has led her is the stuff of fantasies for many interested in wool / craft / textiles / history. She's written award winning books and I expect I may try to obtain one at some point. Secondly, the discussion about the variation in knitting patterns from village to village sounded much like the knitted ganseys from this part of the world: wives knitted heavy woolen sweaters for their fishermen using the distinctive pattern developed for her village. Should the man be washed overboard and the body recovered, this pattern would aid in having the body returned to the right village. Grim, isn't it? But it makes perfect sense. It also rather reinforces the idea that Sundbo puts forward that there is a 'spiritual bond' between the maker and the wearer. Norwegian patterns have historical, mythic meanings. Which brings me to the third point. The article mentions Selbu, referring to the popular eight pointed flower called the Selbu rose pattern. Selbu is the village from which my Dad's birth mother's family originated. The pattern is now considered typically Norwegian, but Sundbo says it predates the mid-1800s when it debuted in Selbu and actually dates back to medieval times in Europe and even before in the middle east. The octagonal star has been around for a very long time.

From ThorNews, which I am now following!

I've not got very far on my Fair Isle, it being a rather complex pattern in spite of only using two colours on any given row. I've decided to use the Selbu Rose somewhere in this small bag I'm making. Should I live long enough to finish it, I'll be sure to show it to you. It makes perfect sense to use this pattern in my Fair Isle project given that the place, Fair Isle is pretty much square in between Norway and Scotland. And once I have the Selbu rose mastered, I can move on to the Norwegian 'lice' pattern (or not).

In addition to thinking of my Dad (as opposed to his genetic material) I'm also remembering his brother / half-brother, Albert, born one day and three years earlier than my Dad. Albert drowned in the Mississippi River at the age of 24. I have to wait until 2022 to access his adoption records and learn more about his story.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Action Shot

Walking to my WI meeting on a Monday night I noticed a lovely tuxedo cat sitting on a stone wall amongst some budding trees. I thought to whip out my camera and snap him along with the daffodils but, no. He decided I might pet him and flew off the wall to follow me down the street. How frustrating. Still he was a lovely sight.

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Vivien's Birthday

No, it's not Vivien's birthday now or any time in the next six months; her birthday is long past so "don't worry about it" (to quote her). I just found some photos I'd taken at the time I was preparing her presents and thought I would share them because it was fun at the time. I always wrap her gifts at the same time as I do her and Steve's Christmas gifts (there's hint for you). It makes a nice change to do a birthday theme instead of the umpteenth red / green / gold / silver thing.

I don't remember what all I got her this time, only that I enjoyed putting it together. I had no birthday wrapping paper that suited, so she got fabric wraps decorated with buttons and ribbons. 

I remember having to tell her to take the plant out of the bag, as I feared it wouldn't do well without light. 

I got the bulbs, the ivy at the garden guy at Tynemouth flea market. And the vase from a new housewares shop that lasted about a month, sadly. It was a newly renovated building tucked away between two others and I was looking forward to exploring it further, as the top floor had a lantern roof, like a conservatory. It's now a boring office place. I'm quite disappointed about this but perhaps her prices really were too good to be true.

Gosh, did I put a baby spider plant in there, too?

I remember the day also because we got an early-ish phone call from one of Bill's children about an impromptu visit that very day. I was rather grumpy about the short notice and then decided I simply wouldn't change my plans. There wasn't enough time to get ready for Vivien's birthday before our next meet up and I still didn't know what I might get her other that what small thing I already had on hand. As it happened the timing was perfect: they were at the door just as I was going out. They had kindly brought us a poinsettia and a very large bag of bacon flavoured crisps. I didn't feel I had the skills to revive this sad poinsettia and so it later went into the compost bin. I donated the crisps (not that they wouldn't have been incredible, I just didn't need the calories) to a nearby food bank. They were gone by the time I'd circled Tynemouth village several times, running into an old friend from work as well. (Must get in touch with Hilary.) 

Was all that terrible of me? Perhaps. I have to say it felt like setting boundaries and taking care of myself. And Bill got to enjoy their visit all the same.

I'm thinking this must have been on sale...or free...

Anyhow, when I got home I had fun wrapping the presents and putting together the plant. It amused me to use sea glass in the bottom for drainage, then potting compost. I inserted the bulbs and surrounded them with the ivy plants. I remembered a magazine article from long ago that described the components for a good potted arrangement: you need a thriller (something that sticks up), a spiller (something that hangs down) and a filler (to fill the gaps). I hoped that the ivy would serve as both spiller and filler (I'm a real fan of draping plants like ferns, ivy, willow trees, etc. I think they are terribly romantic; how soppy is that?).

I am sure I ironed this before wrapping the gift; why didn't I iron it before taking the photo??

The bulbs turned out to be even more "thrilling" than I expected, they shot up well before her birthday. She kindly sent me a photo and said they were using it as their Christmas centrepiece.