A journey of creative thoughts and projects.

Working in conjunction with a wonderful local museum, surrounded by the beauty of Swaledale in the Yorkshire Dales, the inspiration I find for creative projects and a meet up with all the lovely people I find there.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Better late than never......

Apologies for being a little 'tardy' in writing this next posting, I'm not sure where the time slips away to!!
Thought you might like another little glimpse of Swaledale - the weather was not over bright but that is not unusual in Britain is it and especially not up here in the Dales... the picture above is looking down across some grazed fields to the River Swale with the heather covered tops away in the distance. I am looking forward to the heather flowering - there just has to be some inspiration in that!

Getting down closer to the river is this lovely little view of Grinton bridge which is minutes away from Reeth itself. As you can see the water levels have dropped somewhat exposing all those lovely river cobbles.

A little closer still and there are so many lovely colours and textures. I love the way the ash trees have their own graceful flow across the water from the river banks.

....and then get your 'eye in' even closer and it is not uncommon to find the odd fossil washed down from the upper slopes and rolled along by the river. I believe this one might be from an ancient stem of a giant fern - but I am willing to be corrected on that one!

It was a lovely surprise to come across this sheep grazing amongst the more usual swaledale breed found around here. Again I could stand to be corrected here but I think it is a Masham sheep -'local' to the North of England. (The town/village of Masham lies not far away near Ripon.) Produced by crossing a Teeswater/Wensleydale with either a Swaledale or Dalesbred ewe. I haven't yet spun any of the fibre from this type of sheep but it is an ommission I intend to fill - it looks like it could be interesting.
That is one of the fascinations I have from spinning, all those wonderful breeds of sheep we have here in Britain the colours, the textures, the different properties suited to different uses - soemthing to be encouraged I think not lost to the needs of the mass markets.

At the museum itself there have been some wonderfully busy days - everyone seems to enjoy their visits, the memories from household implements, playing the old harmonium, listening to the local dialects preserved on the listening station and just enjoying the general atmosphere of the place. It is very much somewhere to touch artefacts, to talk, to reminisce stop for a cuppa and just relax - such a revelation on how I used to view museums!

Thankfully I have had some sales of my yarns and I had to re-stock the little display the other week. I love spinning, the colours the textures and how the hanks of wool I make can go on to make bigger and better things. Having had a wonderful time on the Knitting Day run by the museum with the norwegian Annemor Sundbo - I had bought one of her books. I have had time to do a little reading now and her view of knitting and yarns has had many echoes for me - if I may I'd like to pass on a few.

'Every work product, even a little fragment, displays the spirit it is made from and the time it was a part of'

In my work, 'the spirit' is derived from all the souls of the women who have put there love, cares and joy of creativity into their work as well as from the strong tradition that continues, like a transmigration of souls, helped by the hands.'

'Today, factories can only use wool which suits the limitations of the carding and spinning machines. No mechanical methods can duplicate the quality of the old handiwork.'

It is such thoughts that I find drive me to keep on spinning and to encourage the return to using and valuing these crafts and the raw materials, I find that like the history stores in the museum there is a whole host of memroies, feelings and spirit stored away in these techniques held on to by a few - but the numbers are climbing!!!

This last photo is from a scarf I have knitted inspired by the self same book. In Norway all the bits of wool and yarn left on the floor around the spinning wheel are known as 'suitors' - believe me, I know all about them!! According to folk belief over there, these small bits are regarded as parts of the life thread - an expression of 'spirit' as I have always felt. I have numerous bits of spun yarn left over and was inspired to make this 'suitors' scarf. Each row of the knitting is a different colour a different fibre - all the different threads that make up life maybe! brought together to make something warm and practical for the life we are living.

......here is the knitting a little closer, isn't it wonderful how all the colours just work together!

Hope you have enjoyed this slightly different angle maybe of the world I inhabit - of nature, the past, the present, the fibres, the colours.......just wonderful! :)


  1. Swaledale looks so beautiful and so peaceful. I love the colours of the yarns that you have hung up in the Museum. That's an interesting idea with the scarf - how many stitches did you cast on for it?

  2. Hi Rowan, sounds awful but basically it depends on how long you want the scarf!! :) For this one I used a 4mm circular needle and put on 200 stitches using fineDK/4-ply yarns I had made - I think having done it I would now prefer 230-250 stitches.