Planet Textile Threads

May 23, 2017

Neki Rivera

second verse,same as the first

i have learned to undo rows efficiently. also binding of with the latch tool that felt scary when i started.
there's also the lack of rush to finish because the climate here is much cooler and i can open the door to the terrace.have wonderful chirpy visitors too.

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at May 23, 2017 02:46 PM

Margaret Cooter

Drawing Tuesday - Petrie Museum

Two men in a boat caught my eye -
 I like how they become shadowy, among the sails-
 To fill in the final few minutes I drew pots, or rather jugs, using indigo inktense pencil and ivory black derwent watercolour pencil. The aim was to add water and see what happened, but I struggle with the waterbrush and left that step till I could use a proper paintbrush -
But I had started with this bit of carving from a tomb which had traces of colour, and a lovely little "teapot" under the table -
 Carol spent the session depicting a vista of crowded vitrines -
 Sue did several drawings on coloured paper - good idea ...
 Apologies for the paleness - Michelle's terracotta doll is a striking shape -
 Mags brought along her "pot-coloured" pencils; see her other drawings on her blog -
 Extracurricular activities -
Sunsets from Mags' holiday in Greece, juxtaposed with details from a finished quilt

In her current City Lit course, Sue made drawings through cutout "windows"
and experimented with materials

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 23, 2017 09:19 AM

Rayna Gillman

Back to work

Clearing out is a treasure hunt.  I've discovered some things I didn't remember I had. Among them, eight Elsie the Cow ice cream sundae dishes! I had two in the kitchen but the other six were in the basement closet. So-called vintage pieces in mint condition. You can find them on ebay and Etsy, but I'm reluctant to part with mine, although I don't really have room in Florida for eight of them.

Borden's dairy had a plant in Newark, NJ.  I think Elsie had a husband named Elmer and a couple of offspring  whose names I have forgotten. Daisy?  Oh, well.  In any case, 1950's is not really vintage to me. I think vintage is more like the 1930's.

My garage is full of stuff I brought home when I emptied my studio and I am now sorting through bins with contents I don't have room for.  Among them, a trove of copper tjaps I have bought from Dharma over the years.

Dharma no longer has tjaps; apparently they have become scarce as hens' teeth -- especially the old traditional ones.  So -I will put them up on my Studio Sale page in the next week or two for those of you who are ready to do some batik.  I recommend using soy wax.

A pile of donation bags were picked up today, including 11 pairs of shoes I haven't worn in 20 years.  That's just the tip of my bedroom closet iceberg.

My granddaughter Kayla was here on Saturday, shopping for Meven missing from the bin she went through. 

Certain fabrics I am keeping: Helene Davis hand-dyes, my grandmother's scraps,

all my solids, some modern prints, and my Indian, African, Maylasian, and Aboriginal fabrics. Here are my Indian batiks, neatly arranged.  Imagine that!

And here are some that I started to work with this afternoon.  To be continued, I hope.

by (Rayna) at May 23, 2017 02:03 AM

May 22, 2017

Dijanne Cevaal


Aussie Bush Project-- please let me know if you are participating . I have updated the Aussie bush page with additional information . I need to get an idea of numbers as soon as possible. Even if you have not finished your work yet please let me know. You have until 14 June to finish work and deliver it. I would love to see as many panels as possible- and if you submit your work- it will definitely be exhibited and tour.

It's been a fast and furious last few weeks as I drove to Italy ( much longer than you might think), and very dodgy wifi most of the time. A friend decided to come along in the first week I was here, so we stayed near Ravenna. I did a 2.5 day workshop  at Montefiore Conca with Opficia della Rossa. The workshop was a combination of kamishibai , shadow and print making- and gave me lots of food for thought.
Some of the work I made for the workshop- we made puppets out of paper to create characters for the shadow theatre ( the puppets were inspired by tracing shadows of foliage and other things)- and I tried out some different printing- cutting stencils and such- it is quite different working with oil based inks.

The two  teachers were Umberto Giovannini and Anusc Castiglioni and I was very inspired by their work and approach. And I feel incredibly lucky to have swapped a piece of my work for Umberto's Ferrocarril 1- and ongoing project he is involved with in recording farflung places and peoples.I don't do many workshops , but have found over the past few years that Italy does offer some very good and innovative courses and they are worth looking out for and are often very reasonably priced. Anusc's shadow work for theatre and films she has made has reiginited my interest in lace- and well printmaking and books are my other passions.Being able to see Umberto's work on an evening visit to his studio for a meal and viewing  his new work was simply wonderful. His print works are on a very large scale and full of shadow and layer- really inspiring and atmospheric.

Some images from Umberto's book- he made wood blocks (xylographs) on each day of his travels for 23 days in the outlands in Argentina.Feel very lucky to be able to view this in the flesh.

Then it was onto Lido de Jesolo- not because I am a beach holiday resort  person, but because the season has still not started and it was possible to get very reasonably priced accommodation in a small apartment. Another friend , Caroline Higgs and I had arranged ages ago to visit Venice. She had seen many parts Italy she had never been to Venice. It was lovely catching the boat bus to Venice in the early mornings  with the local children going to school or local people going to work,before the tourist hordes descend. You end up arriving near Piazza san Marco- so you are also travelling against the tourist tide that invades from the railway station. If you ever go to Venice make the effort to get up really early in the morning- it is quite magical and it is easy to get around- none of the shops are open to distract- you simply concentrate on the ambience and you can get very good photographs because it is not as bright and the light is slightly diffused with water vapour.

 There is so many things to see in Venice and at present the Biennale is on. We did go to one or two fringe events but decided not to see it simply because so many were video installations or combinations of such in the top 10 rated exhibits. The one we did want to see was NSK Pavilion but we ran out of time because we did a half day mosaics workshop with Artefact Mosaic Studio, which we stumbled upon in our wanderings around the city. The course was for 3 hours and was very reasonably priced and included materials. Allessandra di Gennero and Romauld Mesdagh are extremely talented mosaicists, with awards under their belt and "master" qualifications from  the Scuola Mosaiciste del Friuli ( the best mosaic school in the world)- their passion for their work was palpable. It turned out that at one time Romauld had lived very close to where Caroline lived in the French Alps- the world is such a small place sometimes- and they had the loveliest "love" story  as only Venice can offer! Allessandra ( originally from Rome) wanted to study at the Scuola Mosaiciste del Friuli because she had seen a portrait made in mosaics when visiting the school- it inspired her to such an extent that she applied and was accepted for the school. During her study she got to know Romauld in classes and on discussing what had inspired her to study at the school she took him to see the portrait. The school does display work of students but usually with no name- so she was aghast when he reached for the portrait, because you cannot touch the work,  and then showed her the name on the back- yes you guessed it and now they run their inspiring studio together in  Venice. You can also commission their work. Take some time to look at their website- the work is stunning- plus  the restaurant they recommended for our last meal in Venice was excellent .

And every now and then you run into a piece of art that stops you in your tracks and simply has you gasping for breath and leaves you with tears in your eyes. We walked into the Chiesa della Pieta because it was a free  fringe exhibit of the Biennale and on the way to the boat bus station. What we had not expected was to find such incredible emotion. I took pictures and of course will give the artist Safet Zec's website- but there is no substitution for seeing the work in the flesh. He works on grounds seemingly made out of layered papers and newspapers, but it is the emotion in the plight of refugees that he has created that is breath taking. He and his family were once themselves refugees- he makes all those human connections seem alive and heartbreaking. For those that say painting is dead- this work proves that it is not. Caroline and I both had the same response to the work and we went back a second time. It  is powerful and moving and asks us the question of what it is to be human.My photo does not do justice to the work.

by Dijanne Cevaal ( at May 22, 2017 10:08 PM

Margaret Cooter

Walking London - Pimlico to Westminster

Walk London is a network of walks accessible by public transport, and London's transport organisation, tfl, has a programme of free guided walks on three weekends a year - in May, September, and February. Events book up fast; when I booked, all the "country walks" were already full, so I went on a "city doddle" - and it was ever so interesting.

Guides Ian and Katie gave just enough information at each of the stopping points, and had portable loudspeakers so everyone (there were 40 or so in the group) could hear. The sun was shining, which is a bonus - even on rainy days the turnout is good.

Of course I took a photo at every opportunity - here are a few of the highlights.

At Pimlico, a ventilator shaft by Eduardo Paolozzi (1982), using motifs from the construction of the Victoria Line -
 Pimlico is the only station on the Victoria Line without an interchange.

Nearby, an illustration of building patterns in the 1700s - stucco for the most expensive; brick upper stories for the middling sort; and all brick for the humble dwellings.
The fake windows were not mentioned - was it to make a nice facade, or to avoid window tax?
 The nearby estate, built in the 1980s, follows Cubbitt's designs 150 years previously and is built on land that was derelict since a flood in the 1920s -
 The fountain is reminiscent of the "sturgeon" motif used for lamp posts along the embankment in the 1870s by Vuillamy.

The social housing of Ponsonby Place is intersected by John Islip street - one arm has been privatised and the other, juding from the black door furniture being replaced by brass, and the better upkeep in general, is starting to go that way -
 Round the back you can see the remnants of the moat around the former Millbank Prison -
The prison was built in 1821 and demolished in 1892; street layout of the estate on the site follows the lines of the prison blocks.

Also on the prison site is Tate Britain - here, showing bomb damage from WW2, which cannot be repaired because it's part of the building Grade II listing.
Sir Henry Tate made his sugar fortune, we were told, by buying the patent for making sugar cubes - before that, sugar had to be chipped off a block or cone. He was an art collector and wanted to give 65 of his paintings to the National Gallery, but they said they didn't have room ... so he built his own gallery, which was opened in 1897.

Also Grade II listed is the Millbank Tower - 32 stories, built in the 1960s and now about to be developed as luxury flats and a hotel - with a three-story art gallery space -
Behind it you can see where MI5, the homeland security agency, is based. Trinity House and Noble House were built in the 1920s-30s and mirror each other -
It is said to have an excellent canteen - which keeps the spies and spooks from chatting about work in any outside eateries and being overheard.

From Lambeth bridge you can see the new American Embassy behind the trees on the right, and two enormous towers being built on the site of the (now old) New Covent Garden market, which has moved half a mile down the road.
The "cigarette" building has 50 stories of luxury apartments - a one-bed on the 10th floor will set you back £750K or so. It's been called "a stark symbol of the housing crisis". To its left is MI6 headquarters, which until the 1990s had its HQ  at a "secret" location that was "irredemiably insecure" because of the garage, and its petrol, on the premises.

Across the river, London Fire Brigade's art deco HQ are being redeveloped but will include a fire brigade museum -
White Hart Dock lay derelict for many years until an art installation was added in 2009 -
 Round the corner, the Doulton factory building with its amazing tiles was covered in scaffolding -
Under the railway and round the corner, Newport Street is changing, especially the railway arches, whose rents have quadrupled recently - this is the "last garage in Vauxhall" -
 Across the road is Damian Hirst's large art gallery, once a scenery store - it went in and out the huge door -
 Round another corner, this building is rumoured to be the HQ of the metropolitan police CCTV unit -
 It's not far from Old Paradise Gardens, a former burial ground, back in the day when the now-deserted Lambeth High Street was lined with shops and amenities. The gardens received the new gates in 2013 -
They include inscriptions from gravestones and details of plants found in the park.

On the embankment, the benches show (if you look closely enough, above the back foot) the name of their donor - Henry Doulton -
A memorial to the Special Operations Exective,  agents recruited for their language skills working undercover in WW2, 117 of whom were killed, was unveiled in 2009 -
The bust is of Violette Szabo, "young, brave, and beautiful".

Victoria Tower houses the papers of the House of Lords and is taller than Elizabeth Tower, which houses that most famous bell, Big Ben. A three-year refurbishment of the Houses of Parliament means that Big Ben will be silent for a while -
A question - why was HP sauce (yes, named after the H of P, and with the picture on the label) reputedly known as "handkerchief sauce"? It's not in my notes... but some digging on the internet reveals that the name of the originator was Gartons - read the name backwards...!

Last stop was outside St Thomas's Hospital, where the 1972 fountain, by Naum Gabo ("Mr Strings") is an animated version of one of his linear sculptures -
 Down, down, down (3 escalators) to the Jubilee Line at Westminster station, opened in 1999 -
... thinking ahead to a bit of gardening.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 22, 2017 01:59 PM

Neki Rivera

k machine fashion

getting more confident with the k machine; deciphering instructions, but still knitting squares.
this is a boat neck linen top now  being blocked. beautiful yarn, but sinister to bind off because it splits and catches on the latch tool or crochet hook. will get there.
blogger has the hiccups. 

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at May 22, 2017 09:43 AM

May 21, 2017

Margaret Cooter

A good day for gardening

Off we went to the garden centre, with such an array, such choice of potted blooms -
Red-hot poker primula and scabious

It's so easy to spend £££....
Geum, fuchsia, spirea, etc, etc
Filling the back of the car -
Salvia, convulvulus, etc
 Finding temporary places (on the gas meters, why not) and thinking about where they will be planted -
At which point it was time to head off into town for a Walk London event - a short walk encompassing the history of the area along the Thames between Pimlico and Westminster. The perfect way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

I couldn't wait to get home to get on with that planting. Priority was the pot beside the front door - for safety's sake it was bolted down first -
 And here it is, planted up and settling in -
Fuchsia [Tom''s choice], geranium [Gemma's addition], bacopa [for trailing]
Windowboxes might get done tomorrow, shouldn't take long - I leave most of the plants in their pots, so they can be easily exchanged once their blooming is over.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 21, 2017 09:23 PM

May 20, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Of coffeepots and sharp scissors

This page in the latest RA magazine caught my eye -

Why a picture of a coffeepot? Oh, an article on Matisse - his own coffeepot? William Kentridge has a coffeepot, a bialetti, he's using it in one of his animations - that is, in the animation the man, who looks very like Kentridge, is pouring and drinking cups of coffee. Do other artists have attachments to coffeepots? Will keep an eye out ...

In the interests of having a clear space under the coffee table, I had just put some recipe pages from 1996 magazines into the recycling bin (that is to say, magazines published in 1996, though I suspect if all the magazines squirreled away in hidden places in my cupboards were to be collected in one place, and counted, there might well be 1996 or so).

Back out of the bin with those pages and find some scissors and Have A Play. Cut freehand ... what to cut ... ah yes, a vase like the one on the coffee table, another vase, a cup, some fiddly candlesticks [invent a method to get them symmetrical], and of course the coffee pot that's across the room next to the kettle. Thoughts of drawing kettles in the Draw-Paint-Print course at city lit last year... how good it was to have that precise focus.

There's something so nice, so ... homey? ... about a kettle, coffeepot, etc. And cups ... favourite mugs ... but I digress.

It's taken longer to process the photos and write the blog post than to cut the shapes and arrange them - which was "just play".  But I felt some sort of record was vital ...

It's hardly great art - just playing, remember? - and the few minutes spent immersed in doing it has got a few new ideas jiggling around between head and hands. Love the spontaneity and surprise of "drawing with scissors", and the "oh it doesn't matter, just start again" feeling.  I also love how the handles and spouts make the pots into "people" - or rather, how the groupings become little stories in themselves.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 20, 2017 09:20 AM

May 19, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Christopher Le Brun in conversation

Paul Coldwell was asking the questions and making the conversation flow at this event at Chelsea College of Art. I'm a big fan of Paul Coldwell - the crit he gave the book arts group at Camberwell was packed with "things to pay attention to" and his work is fabulous too. Christopher Le Brun I knew less about, but recognised his name as a former President of the Royal Academy.
Le Brun's paintings are not small (via)
... and he's made some big prints - each sheet of Untitled (1986) is 760x1120mm (via)
... but prints in his Fifty Etchings series measure 178x131mm (via)

Horses appear often in his work - "Union" is outside the Museum of London (via)
LeBrun works in different media and someone has written about that ... different disciplines require different concentration and speed. (That made sense at the time, which is why I wrote it down...)

I was also struck by talk of "not-knowing" as a way of looking at the world. In my own experience, sometimes you draw something without knowing what it really is, eg a diseased bone without knowing what a healthy bone looks like, and all you can do is draw what you see. Also I'm thinking of how the early astronomers drew what they saw through their telescopes [some wonderful drawings of Mars in the 19th century] and how that influenced not only what they then "knew", but also what other observers subsequently saw.

Of painting Le Brun said - "Touch - colour - that's what we do."

He advocated putting in "a little kitsch" - for "recognition", natural connectedness.

Touch again when, after working in etching studios and with printing technicians, he started handprinting his woodcuts with a spoon.
from Seria Luda, 2015 - each is 76cm x 56cm (via)

His small etchings need being close to them to show "a world of detail" - it's "akin to reading".

Asked how he inspires himself, he had two suggestions - "hold on to your innocence", what's driving you, what did you first love? and "read and read and listen and think and read and read" and then go and "put colour down".

Le Brun's website has (hidden among the Works) some interesting quotes from interviews, eg:

'I’m highly aware of painting’s layered-ness, what is in front and what is behind; and when you make a sculpture, you can walk around it, so you see the consequences and get in amongst the layers. It has really striking consequences. Like the dark side of the moon – an image that previously only ever had one aspect is then shown to have unexpected potential. '
(Christopher Le Brun, in ‘Interview with CV 16 May 2010’, Interviews: Artists, Patterns of Experience Recordings 1988 -2011, 2011)

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 19, 2017 02:03 PM

May 18, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - The Trees in Tubs by Kathleen Raine

The Trees in Tubs

Little laurel trees, your roots can find
No mountain, yet your leaves extend
Beyond your own world, into mine
Perennial wands, unfolding in my thought
The budding evergreen of time.

          (from Collected Poems, 1956)

Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) "was a poet who believed in the sacred nature of all life, all true art and wisdom, and her own calling. She knew as a small child that poetry was her vocation.
William Blake was her master, and she shared his belief that "one power alone makes a poet - imagination, the divine vision". As WB Yeats, her other great exemplar, put it, "poetry and religion are the same thing". To this vision she committed not only her poetry and erudition, but her whole life. She stood as a witness to spiritual values in a society that rejected them." said one obituary.

"She had high-minded tastes, among them for such disciplines as neo-Platonism and Jungian psychology, and lamented what she described as the materialistic sensibility of the modern public.", said another.

Her first book of poems, Stone And Flower, was published in 1943, with illustrations by Barbara Hepworth.

I found "The Trees in Tubs" in this book, published in 1989 -
The book has been with me a long time - since May 1996, according to my annotation of when it was bought. It travelled to Canada one year, intended but not given as a gift. I'm glad to have it still. 

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 18, 2017 05:00 PM

May 17, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Works in progress

A scrap of silk organza is turning into stitched "chimneypots"

Another scrap made these three

Always in progress - my little garden has self-seeded foxgloves.
This is the view from the stairs as I get out my door key

The view from the street, on approach, shows that the honeysuckle is coming out

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 17, 2017 12:20 PM

Drawing Tuesday - Wallace Collection

The current exhibition (till 30 July) is about gilding - I got only as far as the first room because the intricate drawings by Pierre-Adrien Paris reached out from their frames and grabbed me.
Part of one of Paris's drawings
More intricacy in ink and wash
Paris (1745-1819) spent his latter years cataloguing his collection of some 2,000 drawings, many of which were made during three years he spent in Rome in the 1770s. This sojourn formed an "archaeological approach to architecture" which was reflected in his later designs.

I tried out several pencils and got more familiar with the leafy forms, but certainly have a lot to learn from Paris's drawings -
Not everyone got stuck in the exhibition -
Janet B's combination of simple lines and more-worked areas

Sue's observations of gilding

Carol's lively River Nile

Joyce's "Young Cicero Reading"

Judith tackled "that horse"
Extracurricular actitivies -
Carol found photos of a maze she'd made (on canvas) years ago, and also
found out its current location

Following on from the ceramic lizard in Margate, Janet B drew lizards
at the Royal Veterinary College 

Joyce tried various ways of drawing birdsong

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 17, 2017 10:24 AM

May 16, 2017

Natalya Aikens

teasing apart thread nests

Yup, that's the title of this post. I'm sure any long time reader of this blog must have suspected that I collect thread snips from various projects. I pile them up into little cubbies until I figure out a way to use them. I try to keep them in color families, but sometimes I fail and then I don't stress about it.

Recently I thought they (the thread snips) would make a great texture representing a brick wall and heat rising. So I used them in this piece - Iron Spine: Hot in the City.
fire escape detail

another fire escape, more to follow, but please note the threads in the back ground

Iron Spine:Hot in the City ©Natalya Aikens 2017
As you might suspect, I have a few more thread nests to unravel. Here's some that I am using for the sky in a piece about water towers. Still working on this one.
teasing out the thread nest over repurposed plastic

sketching out the water towers

building up the rungs
Stay tuned! Hopefully this piece will be finished before the end of the month..

by Natalya Aikens ( at May 16, 2017 08:42 PM

May 15, 2017

Margaret Cooter

A tree or two

The Trees and Bees course at the weekend was brilliant - not only do I know an oak from an ash, but can recognise an Indian chestnut and a pawlonia and tell a few other species apart. We identified 119 types of tree (and quite a few insects) and I have photos of all of them, mostly labelled now, though there is a bit of confusion about some of them, despite extensive note taking. Several tree books are on order...

Some of my Regents Park favourites:
Poplars are called cottonwoods in America because of the white fluff  that appears this time of year
Judas tree
White pawlonia on a grey day
Learning what to look for in a leaf
Course leader Steven Falk conpares metasequoia (left) with swamp cypress.
Those "poles" beside the lake are "breathing tubes" for the swamp cypress.
"It's this one" - a tree bumblbee (they nest in holes in trees - and buildings)

Can't remember what these are, but isn't the greenery lovely, and the wild flowers

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 15, 2017 02:09 PM

Neki Rivera

on with the thumbs

cotton mitts for  summer. why so? because can't take the sun until next xmas unless i want a scar to tan darker. sun block? yes also. feel free to call me over cautious

neki desu
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by (neki desu) at May 15, 2017 10:19 AM

May 14, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Insect du jour

A common hoverfly, Syrphus ribesii. This is a female - the eyes don't meet across the top.

The larvae (caterpillars) feed on aphids, and the adults feed on nectar and pollen - doing the job of pollination as they go from plant to plant.

Photo taken in Regents Park, where I'm on a course called Trees and Bees this weekend.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 14, 2017 10:20 AM

May 13, 2017

Margaret Cooter

This beautiful time of year

Last week the Parkland Walk was awash in cow parsley.

This weekend I'm off to Regent's Park for a Field Studies Council course called Trees and Bees.

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 13, 2017 08:55 AM

May 12, 2017

Terry Grant

Yeah, I know...

It's been more than a month. I used to post to this blog so regularly, so frequently. I had stories to tell, things to share. Maybe I've told all my stories, or maybe I'm just telling them in different ways and in different places. I'd like to think there are still stories in me.

Story about what I'm doing with threads and fabrics and colors:

I'm still working small and smaller.

This one is about 6" wide

This one is about 2" wide, copper hanger

That chair, by the way, is in my house. The colors have been changed to indulge my imagination. I wish that pillow existed in the real world. I am finding pleasure in reimagining the everyday items from my life. I started a little list on a scrap of paper of things I want to draw and reproduce as little fabric pictures—shoes, suitcase, lamps, backpack, hat...

Knitting story:

When I started knitting a couple years ago, in a quest for a form of creative meditation, I started with inexpensive yarn, so I could make lots of mistakes and knit a lot. Repetition and perseverance are, I believe, the only way to master hand skills. Then a lovely friend gave me a gift of a ball of extraordinarily beautiful yarn that knits up as a color gradation from one color to another. I was very much afraid of ruining it, so it took me awhile to gather courage to use it, and time to find a pattern worthy of it. There are mistakes in this scarf, but I can overlook them and be happy every time I look at it. The color thrills me. The pattern confounded me and ultimately taught me.

Next up, I needed an easier, less stressful project, so I knitted a shawl to cover the foot of our bed and keep my always cold feet warm. Since mastering that fancy lacy motif in my scarf, I decided to incorporate it into the foot-warmer.

Encouraged by the relative success of both of these projects, I took a gift card my daughter gave me two years ago to my favorite yarn shop and bought the deliciously soft, outrageously expensive, silk/cotton yarn needed to knit a large lace shawl. It is very challenging and I'm going to be plugging away at it for awhile.

And that serene, meditative knitting state I was after? I have not yet achieved that. When following the complicated chart for this shawl, i try to keep my hands, arms and shoulders relaxed, but I find my toes are clenched and beginning to cramp. I stop, uncurl my feet, shake out the tension and resume. Serenity is not achieved without effort!

Spring story:


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

by Terry Grant ( at May 12, 2017 01:13 PM

Margaret Cooter

Rewarding incident

What to do with "reward points"? (Nearly one-third go unredeemed.) 

My John Lewis vouchers get put away and forgotten - but the other day I came across some, and knew what to use them on: my stove-top espresso maker was showing signs of incontinence, probably because of the Forgetting The Water incident, which caused the rubber/plastic ring to buckle etc. Time for a new one, obviously.

The replacement (£40) is nicely - but alarmingly - shiny. Alien - and overbearing.
Could the ring be replaced? A quick internet search showed that replacement rings - er, gaskets - are available.

But how... unwilling to "risk" removing the battered, useless gasket, I took Old Faithful to Algerian Coffee Stores, who used the tip of scissors - the pointed implement nearest to hand - to gouge it out.

While the gouging was happening, the next customer also had brought his pot along - it had "just stopped working". It was twice the size of mine, and venerably patinated. And that was the problem - age had taken its toll - inside, the holes in the filter had clogged up; easy to replace both gasket and filter.

We both went home happy with our renewed coffee makers.
The holes in the filter were mostly still open - years of life left!
I put the shiny new bully back in its box, made sure the receipt was still in the bag, and will take it back to the shop asap.

As for the blue plastic colander in the photo ... that's a souvenir of a work outing to Lille - day trip on Eurostar for lunch with colleagues. Happy memories; it lived at Tony's for a good few years, and had to come home with me, replacing the green metal colander bought from JLewis when I first moved in to the flat. That went to a happy new home - colanders seem to last forever. I also have one that my grandmother brought to Canada in 1952, grey speckled enamel, somewhat chipped ... into which vegetables from the garden in Pitt Meadows had been gathered over the years (is that a metaphor??).

Everything has its story!

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 12, 2017 10:20 AM

May 11, 2017

Margaret Cooter

Poetry Thursday - Walking Early by the Wye by Anne Stevenson

the image
forms itself

Walking Early by the Wye

Through dawn in February's wincing radiance,
Every splinter of river mist
rayed in my eyes.

As if the squint of the sun had released light's
metals. As if the river pulsed white,
and the holly's

sharp green lacquered leaves leaped acetylene.
As if the air smouldered from the ice of dry
pain, as if day

were fragmented in doubt. As if it were given
to enter alive the braided rings Saturn
is known by

and yet be allied to the dyke's heaped mud.
I will not forget how the ash trees stood,
silvered and still,

how each soft stone on its near shadow knelt,
how the sheep became stones where they built
their pearled hill.

      Anne Stevenson (from Minute by Galss Minute, OUP 1982)

Found in The Experience of Landscape, paintings, drawings and photographs from the Arts Council Collection (South Bank Centre 1987-89).

by Margaret Cooter ( at May 11, 2017 12:31 PM

May 10, 2017

Laura Cater-Woods

update on the chickies! and miscellaneous other things

Oh they are cute and have more than quadrupled in size. We started them in a “brooder” created with Ms Gracie’s soft-sided pen, used while her broken leg was pinned. A heat lamp was NOT a good idea but a seed starter heat mat under the bedding worked great. We monitored the temps, kept adjusting as the littles got bigger and then one day, as if by magic, they seemed too big for the available space. Plus they wanted to stretch their developing wings.

Having read that a major challenge with not-quite-adult-chicks is familiarity vs. change, we put together their coop and installed it in the dining room. It took up a bit of our living space but worked great and was highly entertaining for everyone in the household. Within days they were able to climb the ladder or fly into the roosting area. At some point we removed the heat mat and nothing in their behavior changed. Hooray! They were obviously comfortable.

Now they are 6-7 weeks old and almost, if not, fully feathered. They are able to regulate their body temps and do well as a group. Outdoors temps are quite warm during the day (finally!) and usually above 50 at night. We moved the coop outdoors this morning. They had nothing to adjust to except the availability of grass and ground, which makes them quite happy, thank you very much.

The coop is temporarily situated in between a new raised garden bed and a straw bale bed and is sheltered by the S/SE angle of the house. They have grass, ground, sun or shade and everything they are accustomed to and seem quite content.

Zooey is still very protective and the coop-run is predator proof, plus is close to the main entrance to the house. Stella, the cat, has basically lost interest since the chicks got bigger. We will ensure they are secure at dusk.

Life is good for the Star House Chickens. Next project: build them a portable run  (aka “chicken tractor”) that can be moved around the yard and orchard. With a little luck that will happen this weekend.


In other news, we enjoyed a lovely lunch today with a local friend. He’s an art appraiser and a collector of contemporary art and western writers. It was great conversation, stimulating and challenging. Living outside this small town is a rich experience. People are very interesting, there are good overlaps,  we’ve been made welcome and are “at home”. Life is good.


I have finally begun to feel more myself after a long recovery period from March’s unfortunate illnesses. There’s a lot of catching up to do, socially, in the gardens, the studio, office and elsewhere. This all takes so much time and tests my patience. Saying “NO” got to be a habit the past months, now I get to decide when to say “yes”. <G>

The reset button has been employed: I am not behind, rather right where I should be. All will be well.


Are you well? What’s going on in your lives? Drop a note, here or privately.

Be well, do good work…..


by Laura at May 10, 2017 11:05 PM