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Yes; this. April 17, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Really good day.

Every so often, I don’t know if this happens to you, but I hear a song and I go YES.  THIS.  Absolutely this; I will buy a copy of it and listen to it with my headphones in when nobody else is in the house, five or six times in succession.  And then I will find everything else the artist did and buy it all up.  This has happened a few times to me; ‘Race to be King’ by Seth Lakeman, Gershwin’s ‘Rhapsody in Blue’, Christy Moore, Karine Polwart, Kirsty MacColl, Eliza Carthy, all of these people are favourites of mine because of one particular song that I heard and my jaw just dopped.

Here may well be another one.

This hasn’t made Show of Hands for me, so much – they were already favourites, but hell, the more I listen to this, the more I love it.  I love Show of Hands because maybe they do sing a little bit about love and loss, but for the most part it’s stories, and things that happen, and everything else in life.  Matchmaking isn’t life even if it does sell records.

I went to London yesterday.  I looked around law bookshops, and drank a fair bit of coffee, and wandered around the streets.  I went to the V&A’s quilting exhibition (of course) and it was very good.  There was the usual bit of, ‘We got convicts and made them do art work to show how sorry they are!’ that seems to come with a lot of crafting shows, and the eternal dilemma between ‘Women in olden days used quilts to show how talented and amazing they were,’ and ‘This quilt has bits of fluff trapped in it in the same way that women are trapped’.  (That last is an almost direct quotation.  It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.)

And then there were some quilts that were absolutely stunning:

(Military Quilt, William Brayley, photo taken from V&A website – click it to see more about it)

Guys, do you see this?  This is two and a bit metres in each direction.  This was made by some bloke in the army during the Crimean War.  This quilt is coming up to 130 years old and was made by hand, by a guy in India, in his spare time.  And it still looks like this.  He was in a conflict zone!  And he made this!  In his spare time!  Because he could!  Do you see all the patterning on it?  He made that up. And then he sewed it.  By hand.  EXACTLY!

This leads me to two conclusions:

  1. Quilting is hardcore.
  2. I am a wimp.

I can’t get my head around how stunning and intricate and complicated it is.  And there was a whole exhibition full of these.  Loads of them. One day I want to make something that’s beautiful and complicated enough to end up in an exhibition.  It’s not to do with skill, not really, more endurance and practice and effort and energy.

Fibre arts give me hope because a lot of them are all about putting the work in.  You can learn anything.  Put your back into it and you can do that.  It’s really got very little to do with raw talent, in the end.  Anyone can make something for themselves.  It’s just time, and effort, and not being put off when you inevitably cock something up a bit.  That seems very elegant to me.

I also went to Loop, and am now the proud owner of quite a lot of Cascade 220 and one glorious leaf-green skein of Malabrigo Worsted.  I think this is the first time I’ve been to a yarn shop without feeling entirely out of place and getting the sudden urge to run screaming from all the people who know what they’re talking about far more than I do.  This probably had something to do with the fact that it was next to empty.

I have a theory that part of my trouble with this sort of thing comes from university: I don’t like looking like I don’t know exactly what I’m talking about.  I’m used to going away, reading up obsessively in advance, and being prepared to the point of anal-retentiveness.  I’d far rather go away, learn about something myself, and come back, than ask for help on the spot.

One day I’ll get the courage up to go to a knitting class or workshop.  Mental blocks make the world go round.



1. Jenny - April 22, 2010

You’re making me wish I’d been more into the guiding scene when I was younger. But being one of hte youngest in my year I was always too young in the yeargroup to be asked to be sixer and to make hte best of it. I was sixer for a while actually. But I didn’t have any particularly close friends in Brownies and so I left at the age of ten and never *did* go to Guides. Sounds like your Brownie/Guide troop was really good, too :).

I realised making lasagne the other day that it’s things like that – mothering people with food and cups of tea and things – that make me really want to be a parent.

It was ‘Roots’ that made me utterly fall for Show of Hands. And also if you like Show of Hands and Karine Polwart, which obviously you do, then you really, really should get into Steve Knightley’s solo stuff. He did an album called Track of Words which is one of my absolute favouritest albums. Now I need to go and re-buy Show of Hands and Steve Knightley cos it all got stuck on my old iPod :(.


2. Jenny - April 22, 2010

(basically this was one of those entries that brought a massive grin to my face which only got broader and broader and also slightly wistful for some reason). Lots of bloggy love. xxxx

3. Fiona - April 22, 2010

Steve Knightley, Seth Lakeman, and Jenna Witts did an album together called Western Approaches. It’s supposed to be the best thing they’ve ever done. And you can’t find it anywhere – trust me, I’ve tried everything. Knightley’s solo stuff is very good, the little I’ve heard of it (LastFM ftw!)

As for Guides, I’m a June baby, and I got bullied quite impressively while I was an actual Guide by some of the people who were my own age, but the actual doing of things was great fun, and I adored it. Where else do you get to do some of these things?

My mum’s promised to teach me quilting this summer. I really, really want to have a go at it.

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