Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Sun, seaside and silks

Ohhhh what a lovely, relaxing day we had yesterday at Corrymeela overlooking the sea and Rathlin Island.  Catherine, Niqi, Mags and I were at an away day led by Pauline Edmiston the most wonderful Scottish artist who works with silk and can use her craft for either relaxation or therapy.  The day was entitled Dreams and we were gathered in the very restful, and very peaceful, Croi.

We arrived to tea/coffee and a lovely plate of home made scones with beautiful blackcurrant jam; lunch was lasagne, creamy garlic and leek potatoes with a multitude of salad sides to choose from and peach and pear pavlova for dessert.  At the end of the day, after we had finished our craft and had everything packed up for the journey home, we were given yet another cup of tea or coffee and another slab of home made lemon cake topped with fresh blueberries and raspberries. It was all very yummy.

The sun shone all day although the drive to Ballycastle was a little longer and more diverted than usual due to the annual Auld Lammas Fair being held on the same Bank Holiday Monday.  The fair has been running for about 400 years and is associated with the start of harvest and the Lammas tradition.  The tradition is to bring a loaf, made from the new wheat harvest, to Church for a blessing.  Bits of the bread were also placed in corners of the grain store to protect the grain and ensuring a season of plenty.

I was walking along the beach just after 8am and Ballycastle was just waking up in preparation for the Auld Lammas Fair.  You might be able to see the 'Big Wheel' in the background.

We all took different routes to get there, some coming from Coleraine or Bushmills/Balintoy, others from Belfast either around the coast road or via the M2.  Whichever route you had to travel the day was fabulous and so were the colours of nature.

Pauline told us a little about her work, how she became involved and talked about the textures and colours of the silks, how they can be cool or warm, vibrant or pale and how they can remind us of people, situations or of scenery.  The silk was so fine and yet so strong.  Pauline likened all of this to our lives, our strengths and weaknesses, colourful times in our lives and duller episodes, the warmth of family and friends or the coolness of hurtful situations.

We got to see a tiny cocoon, the size of a thimble and first of all we stretched it out to the size of a hat for a human head! Pauline talked about when is the best time to dye the silk and what different effects you can achieve if you dye it at the cocoon stage of wait until it has been unfurled.  Then we started to take apart the ten layers within each 'hat' all the time the silk getting finer and finer.
At every stage we had the opportunity to be hands on and to learn so much.  It was indeed interesting to see how tentative everyone held the tiny cocoons at the start of the day and pulled the silk for the first time but by the end of the day we were all so much more confident.  Did you know that silk makes a noise when you stretch it out?  Yes, it creaks and crackles - amazing.
Can you imagine that this ....
... would become this?

Each of us had the opportunity to add some of our own history, emotions, family life, thoughts and prayers into the creation which was a great privilege and whilst very personal also showed a high level of trust, sensitivity and understanding within the group.  Pauline spoke to us at various stages throughout the day and asked us to concentrate on something specific mentioned by her and to then choose a colour which represented what we were thinking about at that time.  We created something completely original and personal yesterday and which, one lady said, can never be replicated even if we had tried there and then to do the same thing again.  The piece has been gifted to Corrymeela.

We also got the opportunity to make our own piece to bring home.  Here is mine and it represents the seaside where I am always very at home and which has so many 'associations' for me.  I am also, if you know me well, drawn to the colour blue.

It was a day to re-kindle friendships and to make new friends.  Thanks to everyone for an absolutely wonderful day.  If you are on Facebook you may be able to see some photos here.

We had time to ourselves as well within the very busy day, time to knit or crochet or to just relax around the beautiful grounds and admire the views of Rathlin Island.  Niqi and I caught up on some knitting and crochet and I even managed to get a pic of part of my Seaside Winter Blanket CAL on the beach!

At the end of the day we 'yarn-bombed' this ladder which tied in nicely with Mags' closing theme of Jacob's dream and the ladder.

And goodnight

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The end of summer

Well, it's the end of the summer meteorologically speaking because, although not terribly awful, it hasn't been one of the best or hottest summers in Northern Ireland.  Every spring they do promise us a heatwave .....

Our 3Ps Autumn project is continuing and although we are tied to a very tight schedule, we are beavering away to the best of each individual's ability.  Some ladies are more productive than others because they have the skill or because they have the time.  'Every little helps' as the supermarket chain reminds us. Together we will achieve our desired goal.

We have been lazily drifting through the summer holidays and next week sees our local school children return to the classroom.  Among our group we have parents, grand parents and teachers all ready to start the frenetic rush to get ready for school, buy uniforms, books, sports kits, shoes or get lesson plans completed for the old familiar school curriculum or prepare for the new adventure into a new school topic.  Others among us have wearily worked our way through the summer always intending to take a few days off when the 'good spell' arrived.

Two of us have been working away on Zooty Owl, aka Zelna Olivier's, Seaside Winter Blanket CAL. If you don't know what this is it's worth taking a look.  We are at the start of week 11 of 12 now and the time has flown by.  I had a few reservations because I hadn't done anything like this before but it is really enjoyable.  I'm only brave enough to complete a single blanket at a time but Zelan herself has 9 on the go!  Many of the other 2119 group members have at least two which they are working on simultaneously.  Brave women each and every one and I am full of admiration for them.  Check out the photos on Facebook - some of the colour combinations are stunning.

Next Monday some of us are going to a special event being held up on the north coast at Corrymeela. The event is called Dreams.  It is a ladies' day away from all that is happening on the home front, a time to relax, unwind, dream and enjoy hearing from the Scottish artist, Pauline Edmiston, and to create some beautiful silk pieces with her.

Ladies remember to keep taking your holiday hookery pics.  The next blog post will be a collage of our pictures.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The 3Ps

Hookery ladies have been asked to complete not one but two similar projects for the Autumn. We are a small, diverse, group of ladies from all backgrounds who like to knit and crochet, some who have been crafting for years and others who are new-comers.  It's a great honour and we are absolutely delighted to have been asked. It's fantastic to think that our skills and commitment are very much appreciated and recognised by the requestor who has total faith in our ability to produce for them.

It has involved some discussion and agreement but everyone is enthusiastic and eager to get started.  Needles are clicking away, crochet hooks have been sharpened and wool has been purchased. Even some novice knitters and crocheters have been enthused enough to go out and buy supplies and to even try knitting/crochet if they haven't done that one before.

Unfortunately I can't tell you yet what the 'Ps' stands for except that the last one is 'project'.