Sunday, 30 September 2012

Why, Oh Why..........

Can't museums, mills and local attractions get things right?

There was a discussion recently in the UK Spinners Forum on Ravelry about the way displays show spinning wheels set up wrongly!  Well on our travels we visited the Helmshore Textile Mill this is run by a trust and received funding from Lancashire County Council, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the North West Development Agency, and the Friends of Helmshore Museum.  So not some amateurish set up.

The museum is divided into two sections - one for cotton and one for wool (as the mill seems to have been used in the past for both fibres!).  We went for the wool section first, as there was a demonstration due later on in the cotton part.  Imagine my surprise to find an Ashford Traditional on display as an example of a typical English wheel of the 18th and 19th centuries.................

A conversation with the person overseeing the room was interesting to say the least.  She couldn't believe that this wheel wasn't what the description card stated - I explained that these wheels were made in New Zealand in the 20th century so couldn't possibly be from the 19th century let alone the 18th and that I had a similar one at home.................. 

They had some fine examples of Looms, Spinning Jennys a lovely Walking Wheel and right at the back this interesting contraption

Why they have set it up with a cone of yarn is beyond comprehension and to be completely honest I am not entirely sure that it is a spinning wheel.  The wood under neath was a different colour (and I suspect age) from the top (the top has had wood worm and the base has not) and as I couldn't get any closer I didn't get a good look at the spindle, but if this was set up level it is very similar to some old wood turning wheels in Mr S's Wood Turning Magazine -  I wonder!

Having duly inspected the mill pond under a large umbrella in a monsoon, we turned our attention to the cotton displays. 

The first display showed a family working in a cottage - the wife with Great Wheel, the husband working a loom and two children carding cotton on (modern) hand carders!  I am sorry that I don't have a photo of this as I was inform that they didn't encourage the taking of photos, I wonder why!  So dear reader you will have to take my word for the following description:

The room was approximately 3 by 4 metres, with a small window high up in the back wall, at one end was a fireplace with the obligatory pot over the fire.  At the back of the room, to the side of the fireplace and next to the wall was the Great Wheel the woman stood behind it and there was no way that she could have spun from that position, plus she was supposed to be spinning cotton......  The two children sat on stools in front of the fire and the rest of the room was taken up by the man who was working on the loom.  Just how wrong can you get it and to make matters worse they a a short video showing the scene with the people working, talking and laughing - as if!.

When we got the to cotton demo things look up - well the guide had worked there!  We were taken through the machinery and the processes needed to produce cotton for weaving - all very impressive as the machinery had been saved from export to India in the 1980s and was still making the tea towels which were sold in the shop.

Unfortunately we were out of time so I was unable to complete the visitor's satisfaction survey - perhaps next time we are up that way I can add some comments to the visitor's book...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Tropical Sun and Monsoon Rain

While the Paralymics were blessed with the most fantastic weather the last few days of our holiday (well we were away from home) resembled a monsoon - it began raining on Saturday evening and continued without a break until Tuesday afternoon, then it drizzled on and off for the next 24 hours - taking down the awning in the rain was not pleasant and after the warnings about not travelling unless absolutely necessary we were more than a little wary - but we needed have worried as we drove down the M6 and M5 the weather cleared and we arrived home in sunshine!. 

Saturday, before the deluge began, we went to Bakewell (a drive through the most beautiful countryside on narrow lanes and up a 20% hill with cyclists) and to BOB the Underground Craft Festival (hopefully an annual event) where we had a fab time talking to various people about spinning - what else?  Like a right idiot I forgot my camera  but manage to get one decent shot on my phone of a wheel made by the Spinning Hobbit (the legs in the photo belong to Mr S and the Spinning Hobbit who were in a deep conversation about making wheels)

This wheel is based on the Babe using plastic piping.  The only bit he didn't make was the bobbin which was a Ashford.  It looked good but I had difficulty getting it to treadle smoothly......... maybe me, but it wasn't as easy as my Calendar Wheel. 
The Murmering Wheel group were there with a surprising number of wheels, including (and I do so wish I had photos) two Frank Herrings (one the lovely bent wood which I lust after and the other made from metal tubing not unlike a Ashford Joy), a Louet in a case in which the bobbin was turned by the wheel, a couple of Great Wheels and a selection of other wheels including a natural Kromski Sonata which completely threw me as I have only ever seen the dark wood wheels before (the Group have 46 wheels in total - which makes my tally of six look pitifully small!) One thing I noticed was that they all treadle very fast, indeed I have never seen any spinners before that treadled a such speeds maybe this is a northern thing - we southerners take it much slower....
I love going to these shows, although I don't buy much - it is more for ideas and keeping in touch with people.  One such was Janet at The Threshing Barn who is a constant source of inspiration and a visit to the Barn is a must if you are in the area (she is always at the Farmer's Market in Bakewell on the last Saturday of the month too) as it is stuff to the rafters with lovely crafty things - and I am pleased to say that I didn't miss out. 
The other highlight of our tour of Yorkshire was a visit to the World of Wool - an Aladdin's Cave of fibre, although the coffee shop is on the second floor!  I have a large box stuffed with fibre which I have just unpacked...................

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

I'm in love......

and who could resist?

These two adorable lambs are Valais Sheep from Switzerland and and unbelievably the adults are just as gorgeous - it was love at first sight.

I want a fleece even though it is very coarse and only suitable for carpets! I want one of those even though I have just been given a Blue-faced Leicester fleece.........

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

We made a difference....

Life is gradually getting back to normal after the excitement of the Paralympics – early mornings and long shifts certainly took a lot of effort especially as both Mr S and I aren't used to a regular routine. But the experience was as I expected = a once in a life time affair. Complete strangers stopped to speak and thank us for the marvellous job that Games Makers were doing.

The number of people that came to the Paralympics was mind blowing – fourteen thousand people came to Eton Manor on the Sunday........ People actually paid to watch, unlike Beijing where people were forced to attend! The weather was amazing, which certainly made the week outstanding, brilliant sunshine day after day - a true Indian Summer! It was so hot that I had to use sun screen, a very unusual occurrence.... and hopefully I have inspired a few people to try Wheelchair Tennis.

I had managed to switch from Technology to Team Events at the last minute which was great and it meant that I was the only wheelchair user at Eton Manor (other than the players and the doctor) that was in full public view..... I got to watch some of the best matches while on duty at the entrance to the courts. Peter Norfolk failed to defend his title, but did get a silver medal in the Quad doubles, and Lucy and Jordanne won the Bronze in the Ladies doubles.

The week seems surreal now, it was as if we were in a bubble divorced from reality – so much that we managed to lose track of the days and arrived a day early at the stopover site on our way to have the caravan serviced!!

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