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My Uncle David has offered me his Great Wheel to have for keeps. I am thrilled and honoured. I remember his Great Wheel from  my childhood and it is an awesome creation. Here is a picture of it from many years ago, with my cousin Libby demonstrating:

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My Uncle, David Barnett, is an amazing engineer, carpenter and woodturner and he has designed and built all sorts of looms and spinning equipment over the years, in his spare time, as a hobby. He has made all of my giant knitting needles for my extreme knitting projects. He is best known for the Barnett Drum Carder, which was very sought-after by the spinning community for its superior design. Now he’s retired and he doesn’t make them any more, although they occasionally come up for sale on ebay and he can still supply spare parts.

I have wonderful childhood memories of family visits when I was encouraged to have a go at spinning, weaving, knitting, rug making, and embroidery. Obviously knitting became my thing and it’s never left me. But with my family history of old-time creative textile arts, I have always wanted to learn to spin. One of my Aunts was an expert spinner and weaver, and she used to teach spinning classes. She taught me to spin as a child, but that lesson is a distant memory now and sadly she is no longer here to teach me. But I’m sure my Uncle will show me how to get started.

As the only knitter in the family, they would like the Great Wheel to have a good home. It’s a very large thing so gawd knows where I’ll put it, but I will find a spot for it. My OH is fascinated and thinks it’s a wonderful thing to accommodate, and anyway, he has a nine and a half foot piano in the living room so is hardly in a position to object!

I found this video on YouTube showing a Great Wheel in action. It’s rather lovely…

Till next time,

L x

The very last cat basket I have is a size Small which I made a while ago and sent as a sample to Anthropologie.  They didn’t go ahead in the end, which was just as well, since the wool has been permanently discontinued. So they sent the sample back to me and it’s my very last one.

Then today my boss announced she has just reserved a new kitten in the local rescue centre – a ginger and white cutie – to keep her older cat company. Could she buy a cat basket for him? A pleasure that my last wool basket is going to a home where I can see it again! The kitten is going to be called Jimmy – how adorable is that?

In case my own cats are disappointed, I’m sure I could pull together some scraps and offcuts, maybe undo a couple of smaller prototypes, to fashion the very very last ever basket to keep them happy too.

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Herbie would appreciate it.

Till next time,

L x

No luck with the search for a new giant wool supply.

I was in London last week doing a trade fair with the new day job. It was a high-end gifts trade fair and I took one of my smaller knitted baskets with me as part of our exhibit. It was a great talking point. I had the chance to meet various buyers from textile mill shops and visitor centres – the ideal people to ask about the supply of giant wool. Sadly, these people who were in the know told me that they did not know of anyone who supplied it. One lady recommended the company I had used before – who have now discontinued it.

So I think I really have to draw a blank!

But then a very helpful lady from Not On the High Street suggested t-shirt yarn, and sent me some pictures. I hadn’t heard of t-shirt yarn before, but it appealed to me because it’s a waste product of the textile industry, therefore I would be ‘up cycling’.  It also comes in all sorts of fabulous colours. I found some videos online of people cutting up t-shirts into continuous strips to make the yarn DIY-style.  So I had a go myself with an old t-shirt, and found that it knitted up quite well.

I’m feeling inspired….am now sourcing a good supply…watch this space!

14 x 10 in basket

This week I got a great order for TWO medium cat baskets from a lady in France (thanks, notonthehighstreet.com!)

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I realised I was down to my very last cone of giant wool and this order was going to use it all up. I contacted my supplier to place another order, and was shocked to find out the the wool is no longer available.

I contacted the only other supplier in the UK that I know of (who were more expensive), and sure enough they told me the same thing. This yarn is discontinued.

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A google search yielded nothing remotely like it. Which didn’t surprise me because it was hard enough to source any kind of giant wool in the first place. One of the suppliers helpfully sent me some samples of their undyed yarn. But their thickest offering, a soft wool roving, was not even in the same ball park as the giant wool.

So with great sadness I will fulfil my last order for extreme knitting cat baskets this weekend.

Unless anyone out there can recommend a supply?

Till next time,

L x

Easter Saturday, a fine sunny day, perfect for a trip to the seaside with 2 friends.

Set off on the 9.10 train to Cleethorpes. Friends delighted when I produced bucks fizz and plastic wine glasses from my bag. Hilarity as tried to pour without spilling on table. Poor chap occupying fourth seat asked to move – not because he was getting off, but because we were getting lary.

First time for me in Cleethorpes.  Very excited because I love the sea, having grown up on the south coast.  Living in landlocked Sheffield, had not seen the sea for 3 years. Friends said the sea at Cleethorpes is in fact the Humber estuary and very tidal. When tide is out, there are acres of sand flats, so you can barely even see the sea then.  Well, if I go all the way to the seaside and don’t see the sea, there’ll be trouble.  Fortunately when we got off the train, the sea was all there.

View from the pier

View from the pier

On the pier

On the pier

Pretty awful run-down seaside tat around the station. Pier had been cut down to a few yards in wartime. Traditional seaside donkeys and hardy British bucket-and-spaders despite chilly wind.

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Strolled down the prom to the bird sanctuary and were passed by a delightful miniature steam train going ‘toot-toot’!  Everyone waved.

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Stopped at the point where the line of zero longitude crosses the east coast, marked by a signpost and a metal plate in the pavement ‘Greenwich Meridian Longitude – zero’.

Greenwich Meridian marker

Greenwich Meridian marker

Found the miniature train station complete with traditional signage, men in railway uniforms of yesteryear, and a stout man in a bowler hat announcing departures via a cordless microphone. A fusion of old and new in one fat controller!

Then came across a wonderful boating lake, big, with 3 islands and a host of ducks, geese and swans. And tourists trying to row against the stiff breeze off the North sea. I have sea legs so insisted we join in. Seven quid for 30 minutes, he said, but we filled our boots for an hour and no-one minded.

On the boating lake

On the boating lake

Boat man held boat steady as we clambered out, and asked him where’s the best place round here for fish and chips? Steele’s in the market place, without a doubt.  Found Steele’s, and even though it was nearly 3pm and past the lunchtime rush, a queue out the door. Worth the wait. Slap-up fish and chips, traditional style. Comes with a pot of tea and bread-and-butter. Pot of tea comes with a jug of hot water – the mark of quality. Dessert menu included banana split, knickerbocker glory, and spotted dick. Wonderful. But a bridge too far for us.  Besides, there were freshly-baked donuts to buy back on the prom. And sticks of rock. And cinder toffee.

Seaside rock shoppe

Seaside rock shoppe

Back on the prom, the sea had gone!

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Bye-bye seaside,

Till next time,

L x

 

It’s been a horrendously stressful few months but at last it feels like I’m turning a corner.

It all started last July when I fainted, fell over and broke my ankle. Then on the day I returned to work with leg brace and crutches, my employer told me I had to accept a pay cut of nearly 50% or be dismissed.  It seemed like a redundancy to me but she was very unclear about it and managed the whole process very badly. I claimed and got my 3 months’ notice period.

In August an attempt was made to constructively dismiss me by accusing me of stealing bubble wrap from the warehouse. I easily disproved this by naming the date the bubble wrap was used up, the customer order it was used for, and two witnesses who saw me use it. However, the insult, shock and outrage that this caused cannot be overestimated and the perilous nature of my position was suddenly very clear. I had worked at this company for 16 years and had thought there was a high level of trust, respect and friendship between us. Sadly, it was wiped out in a single, devastating blow.

The rest of my notice period was extremely difficult for me but at least it was finally agreed that I was being made redundant. A redundancy calculation was made, but would only be paid to me in tiny instalments over a period of years. Astonishingly, I was told that if I wanted the lump sum I would have to sue her for it in a tribunal court, and if I chose to do this she wouldn’t ‘take it personally’.

The court date was 11th April and in the meantime there was masses of preparation to do. I had to respond to the other party’s submissions, which were a depressing catalogue of half-truths and evasions. Yesterday in court was the most stressful day of my life. But the judge found in my favour and I was awarded compensation for unfair dismissal. My case was untypical and the legal arguments, lesser known precedents and technicalities were fascinating. I was utterly relieved when it was all over. As soon as I got home I necked a bottle of champagne.

Whilst all this was rumbling on, I was looking for a job but could only get temporary office work. So I set up my own art publishing company. It’s very early days, but I’ve really enjoyed the learning process and as a small business it’s got a lot of potential.

Even better, last month I was headhunted by the MD of a local bag printing company who had my CV on file from a previous application. The job seems great and I really like the people. It is only a 30-minute walk away so I’ll be leaving the car at home and saving a fortune in petrol. I might even drop a dress size!

Here’s hoping that this year pans out a bit better than the last!

Till next time,

L x

I just got this new cat tree for Herbert.

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It’s less of a cat tree, and more of a cat barrel.  I wanted it to have a small footprint and not be a hideous monstrosity, so it fitted the bill.

There is a comfy bed on top and three dens inside. The bottom two dens connect, and the top den is self-contained. There is even a fluffy mouse on a piece of elastic suspended inside, for hours of fun.

 

Monty and Larry, checking it out

Monty and Larry, checking it out

Trouble is, this cat tower is standard cat-sized. Not Maine Coon-sized. They fit on top OK, because they fold up really small. But they can’t get their great backsides and tails inside.

 

Hey, I don't fit!

Hey, I don’t fit!

Still, it’s useful for storing toys and pulling bits of string through.  And it’s covered in sisal so they can give it a good scratch, instead of the bookcase.

The reason I got it for Herbert is that he hasn’t really got a perch to call his own in the kitchen. Larry has the laundry basket, where he has his special cushion. Monty has the top of the bookshelf, where he likes to look down on us. And now Herb has his own cat tower. I really hope it will help to build up his confidence and stop him over-grooming.

Zzzzzz

Zzzzzz

Till next time,

L x

 

 

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