Saturday, 25 September 2010

Job done

A big thank you to the Knit and Natterers

I have to say it was great fun, Jesse got herself tangled in all the wool I had brought in and it all ended in fits of laughter. Some of us sat outside in the garden as the weather was beautiful. A hive of industry, as I had mentioned the previous week that I had dyed 50 skeins to be balled up if anyone wanted to help so thanks to everyone as it was all done within an hour. We also discussed the best way to put the cloak together and Sheila joined a couple of triangles to one of the squares. I have spent this week trying to fit the pieces of the jigsaw with some success but there is a long way to go as Michael wants the maxi version not the mini one!


Several ladies from ‘Knit and Natter’ have been supporting the ‘Big Knit 2010’ venture. Age Concern Frome has been given the task of producing 500 knitted little hats as their contribution to the national target of 800,000 hats!

These hats will sit on Innocent smoothie bottles in Sainsbury’s stores from November 3rd. For every bottle sold, Innocent and Sainsbury’s will give 25p to Age UK to help fund winter warmth projects for many people in later life. 80% of the money raised will fund projects on a local level and 20% towards funding national winter warmth activity.

Last year was a huge success with knitters up and down the country getting involved in making 444, 025 little woollen hats. This year it is hoped that the ‘Big Knit’ will be even bigger, producing more hats and therefore more money! Age Concern Frome trust that knitters of all ages in Frome will get out their needles, wool and easy pattern to achieve our target – or to do even better!

At the time of writing this, Age Concern Frome has received 900 completed woolly hats, almost twice the allocated target for Frome - and the date for handing in the completed hats (October 5th )is still ten days away! After this date, I shall pop a postscript in this blog to let you know how many hats our ladies from ‘Knit and Natter’ completed and the total number of hats Age Concern Frome finally acquired.


Will post a few pics next tuesday. Please send some in if you have any you want to share

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Heritage Day at the Blue House in Frome

Andrea, one of the trustees of the Blue House offered me the opportunity to demonstrate how the blue dye is extracted from Isatis Tinctoria (Woad) which I have been growing in the Blue House garden for the past 3 years. 

Not being one to miss and opportunity to dye, I set up a small vat, (well 2 saucepans which won't be returned for use in the kitchen, please let me know any one pot recipes for supper), in the back garden under the pergola and described the process to an interested audience while tearing and steeping the leaves, oxygenating and finally reducing the liquid. 

White wool was then dipped into the vat and as it was removed it turned a beautiful shade of indigo blue to lots of oohs and aahs from children and adults.  
One of the land registry maps on display in the exhibition also showed the location of a dye workshop at the bottom of the garden which could, probably will,  lead to further research.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The Frome Show

Turned out to be really sunny even though rain had been predicted. Really busy event, lots to see and do. Knitted items were on display and Mary's scarf was highly commended, well done. Jon and I really enjoyed seeing the pigmy goats from Nettleford Farm again. Here is a picture of Olivia with Bill.I hope to get the drawings from Stina next week.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Heritage day at the Blue House

The Blue House will be open as part of the National Heritage day on Sunday September 12th 2010 from 2:00pm - 5:00pm. I will be trying to produce a woad vat from fresh leaves growing in the garden (Woad vats are notoriously temperamental) But, while I am praying to the woad gods you may enjoy reading some of the history of the Blue House, have a little tour or enjoy tea and scones in the Churchill Room.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Cloak of Invisibility

Pallium Ad Celandum

It all started a few years ago when I foolishly decided to see if I could find out if in 1724 the ladies of the Blue House almshouses in Frome had their gowns made and dyed blue locally. They received a new one every two years - now that is environmentally sensible! I could not find out very much, but I got approval from the trustees to grow woad, Isatis Tinctoria, in their lovely garden. We had some help and had two wonderful days dyeing  by extracting the indigo from the leaves and dyed silk, cotton and wool samples. During these workshops, Michael, seeing the blue grey colour emerging from the vat speculated that the cloak of invisibility mentioned by the Romans may have been dyed with woad. So from Legend and Myth to reality.
We agreed that if I could get the wool, dye it and knit it would he would wear it. Well, it has taken three years but we have now started the project and hope to raise money for charity. Here he is modelling the black version! the blue one is in the process of being dyed and then hopefully knitted by a team of volunteers. 

Hairbrained Scheme

The Knit and Natter group has started up again after having the summer off. I can't believe how fast it all went and I definetely did not get enough done, never mind, there is always next year.
I have proposed a new hairbrained scheme and I am pleased to say that I could not do it without the help of the group who wholeheartedly participated today.

Will post photos shortly

Results of the three day garden show

Despite all the talking and demonstrating of woad dyeing, I managed to dye quite a bit of wool for the Cloak of Invisibility Project. Pallium ad celandum - Will explain all in a later blog. It was really nice talking to lots of people and have had a few follow-up e-mails including one from  Malcolm, thank you for providing the following words.
Woad song
Sung to the tune of ‘Men of Harlech’

What’s the use of wearing braces, socks suspenders shoes with laces, hats & caps you buy in places down the old Kent road.

What’s the use of shirts of cotton, studs &; ties that get forgotten, these affairs are simply rotten, better far is Woad.

Woad to show your Women,(pronounced ‘woe men’) woad to scare your foemen, boil it to a brilliant blue, rub it on your back or on your abdomen(pronounced abdoe men).  Ancient Britain’s never hit on anything as good as woad to fit on, neck or knees or where you sit on, Tailors you’d be blowed.
Romans came across the channel, all dolled up in tin & flannel, half a pint of woad per man’l clothe you more than these.
Saxons you can waste your stitches, building beds for bugs in breeches, we have woad to clothe us which is, not a nest for flees.
Romans keep your armour, Saxons your pyjama, hairy coats were meant for goats, yaks, retriever dogs & lamas; 
Tramp up Snowdon with your woad on, never mind if you get rained or snowed on, never need a button sewed on, ‘go it ancient Bs’

By the way, does anyone know the words to "Molly of the Woad"

I'm Shattered!

I don't know how people manage to demonstrate for 3 days without being absolutely exhausted. As you know I was invited to exhibit at the National Garden Show in the Shepton Mallet showground last weekend. The previous Monday I had been shown the space and wondered how I could fill it as it was rather large. I then found out I was sharing with Scarecrow Reception and adorable but mischevious pigmy goats, who by the way will be at the Frome showground this Saturday. What a relief, I had prepared some large posters, so covered the walls with white sheets and hung them up. Set up a small vat and then seemed to talk non stop. Stina, a friend who kindly helped me, sat and worked on her woad wig, invented stories and drew the pigmy goats.  Olivia, her Dad Paul owns the goats, gave several wonderful presentations about the pigmy goats made some blue story necklaces that Stina is illustrating and will hopefully give me a sample to include on the blog shortly.