Thursday, 28 July 2011

Oh the fun to be had..

Like my new header? I'm trying to mess around with the picture file to add text to it directly rather than using the blogger template thingy. But possibly it's too late at night for me!

We've had a few days away - lots of this:

That's Loch Morlich. The water was a bit chilly but Miss Mouse and I swam!

I had plenty of blissful lazy knitting time in the sunshine while we were away..

.. and I've nearly finished my Saroyan scarf. In my head it's my Legolas scarf. Every time I look at it it makes me think of The Very Secret Diary of Legolas* - 'Am definitely prettiest member of the Fellowship. Go me!'

Too tired for blogging now - good night!

*old meme but it's classic innit?

Friday, 15 July 2011

The Burrell Collection

We were at Pollok Park again this morning - that's the second time in two days, how keen are we? The kids and I were there yesterday with my brother (pics on my other blog), up at the Pollok House end. The kids love the playpark but it's very popular and that late in the day very crowded, so I told them that we'd go first thing in the morning one day. Today was the first day of my Beloved's holidays, we were up early and it was sunny so it was the perfect opportunity.

The playpark is in the part of the park where the Burrell Collection is, so after about an hour in the playpark we headed inside for a dose of history. When my Beloved and I first moved down here (back here in his case, he's 'local') we used to go the Burrell quite a lot, especially in our historical re-enactment days, but since the kids came along it's been a lot less frequent. They're getting to an age now where they can take a bit of an interest (especially the Boy) so we were in there for longer than I expected but it was nothing like as leisurely as it used to be! My favourite objects, the tapestries, have been moved around a bit since I was last there and there was an interesting leaflet about the Burrell Tapestries Research Project explaining what's going on with them.

Well, it would have been more interesting if Miss Mouse hadn't been running riot while I was trying to read it! I've linked to the Project's blog before but it's worth doing again!

I bought a few postcards - top right, Hercules Initiating the Olympic Games, c. 1465-70 (bit of a foppish 15th century Hercules!), at the bottom The Bible Tapestry, 1505 or 1550. And top left?

A closer look! This is one of the paintings from the 'upstairs' (mezzanine I supose) gallery. It's called La Raie (the Skate) and is by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1779) and it amused us because this is exactly what our own little tortoiseshell-and-white cat does. We're sitting eating (this is when we're lazy and eating dinner on the settee) and she saunters over, sits down and apparently falls asleep. At some point while we're eating she'll think 'Oh I'll just casually have a s-t-r-e-t-c-h, and, ooh fancy that, there's a bit of steak almost on my claw...' Hmm. Well-observed Monsieur Chardin.

I googled La Raie to check it is a skate as although I was pretty sure it said that on the label by the painting it doesn't say on the postcard. And through Google I found another painting entitled La Raie, also by Chardin. If you have a look you'll see it's another cat (I think), another skate and some more oysters. Further googling of 'Chardin cat' finds The Silver Tureen and Still Life with Cat and Fish and a bit of a theme developing. Poor Monsieur Chardin!

Anyway, why are the postcards on the grass? Well, after we went back outside the kids had a bit of a run around and an ice-cream each, while I sat on the grass, had a coffee (also from the ice-cream van, how sensible of them!) and looked at the postcards and the tapestry leaflet. What could be nicer?

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


I can't believe I forgot to mention the brownies!

After our fruit-picking expedition the other day I'm left with more raspberries than even I can eat, and I adore raspberries. So I googled chocolate and raspberry recipes, convinced I'd seen a recipe somewhere that combined chocolate goodness with raspberry goodness. ('Scuse me, drooling on the keyboard). And I found a Sue Lawrence recipe on the BBC Food website for Chocolate and Raspberry Brownies. Mmmmm. I've tried quite a few Sue Lawrence recipes now, by chance really - quite often her recipes are the ones that I find when I do a search for a particular thing, so she must have similar tastes to me! - and they're always spot on.

It didn't go entirely to plan because I used a silicone baking 'tin' as it was the right size, but really I think a proper tin is called for in this recipe as the middle was more of a chocolate and raspberry crumble than brownies. It was still very edible but had to be eaten with a spoon! But the pieces round the edges are more cohesive and, chilled especially, taste truly heavenly. I may have to make another batch. Now I've just got to work out what to do with all the strawberries..

In other Thrilling News, ooooh - I googled 'dyeing nepeta' after an idle thought, and a couple of sites suggest you can get a yellow dye from nepeta leaves. Hurray! I've got masses of it!

Monday, 4 July 2011

a stripey ambition

For some time it has been my ambition to get a deckchair. 'Ambition' - that's a lofty word isn't it? That's the secret of achieving ambitions, don't aim too high :-D. This one was a particularly achievable ambition as the deckchair I bought was half-price at the supermarket. And I love it! It's so comfortable, I can put my head back and shut my eyes, and there's plenty of elbow room for alfresco knitting. And it's stripy. Miss Mouse loves it too, as you can see - there may be squabbles over who gets to sit in it.

My cheap-as-chips folding picnic chairs are fine, but this is just designed for leisurely loafing around. And as my mother-in-law took the kids out today I had the chance to do a little bit of loafing, in between doing a tonne of laundry. Actually the pictures are from yesterday, but it was much the same kind of day - warmth, sunshine (intermittently clouding over but remaining warm), cats prowling around looking for patches of shade,

green things growing (that's the nepeta),

until it became too much for Cat2 who retreated inside to fall asleep on a bag-nest. She does love bags.
I spent some time yesterday afternoon winding a skein of yarn into a ball - this is one I'd been meaning to do for a while. It's a Colorimetry yarn by my friend Purplejen (she also sells her yarn at The Life Craft in Glasgow) - doesn't it look as if it's hovering there? I think it's because I used the flash! I've been hanging on to this one trying to decide what to do with it. I love the colours, they're so rich and happy. I just can't decide what to knit. It's a laceweight yarn I think (lost the label of course), finer than I usually knit with, but then I'm making efforts to break out of my knitting comfort zone. It'll be character-building!

Mr Borg's comment when he saw it was 'You didn't dye that.' No dear. Purplejen uses acid dyes which I'd love to try some day. I don't know how she keeps the cats out of it all - her cat Cocoa is my cats' mother. I'm sure my cats would be leaning over my shoulder, supervising. As would the kids. Maybe when they've all grown up..

Saturday, 2 July 2011

the little dye mystery

As I've mentioned before, the unpredictability of natural dyeing is not a problem for me - I enjoy the air of anticipation. Sometimes the results are disappointing, sometimes they exceed anything I'd hoped for. Sometimes they're a bit bewildering - Thursday's red onion dyeing being an example. I'd left the skeins to soak overnight and when I drained them yesterday morning the 4-ply was a distinctly different colour from the aran. Sometimes the colour you get once the yarn is dry is different from when it's wet, so as the yarn was dripping wet I put it on the washing-line and.. pretty much forgot about it.

The kids and I were heading out for the day with my mother-in-law so the yarn went on the line in the middle of a a picnic-making, coaxing-son-into-wearing-clothing-suitable-for-the-weather, rounding-up-cats frenzy. We had a glorious day out - the weather was warm and sunny and we went fruit-picking at a pick-your-own farm right next to the runways of Glasgow airport so we got to watch 'planes take off and land as we had our picnic.

Then we went to Pollok Park and had a wander around.

I love the gardens at Pollok House - there are parts where you feel obliged to stroll in a stately Jane Austenish manner (I'm thinking Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Colonel Fitzwilliam at Rosings Park). Well I feel obliged to stroll, the kids feel obliged to belt around like very small commandos on a secret but surprisingly noisy mission.

As it happened Georgian strolling was actually the order of the day as some location filming for Garrow's Law was going on (I hadn't actually heard of this programme before, I just found out from Googling 'pollok house filming') so there were weird lighting set-ups in odd places..

.. and men in breeches hanging about:

Apparently the programme is set in London but filmed mostly in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Bit like Cardiff really.

I've only been in Pollok House once, when I attended a day-long NTS conservation course held there (that's historic object conservation, i.e. 'kill the clothes moth', not save-the-whale!) and I keep meaning to go again. It's a lovely and fascinating house, but I suspect if I went with the kids I'd see nothing of it!

After all our adventures we headed home and I remembered the yarn. And if anything the colour difference between the two skeins was even more marked once they were dry:
Intriguing isn't it? Well, it is to me.. They were dyed in the same pot for the same length of time yet have turned out really different colours. Possibly wool from different breeds of sheep? I'm very happy with both colours, but I particularly like the uneven uptake of dye in the aran skein. I just need to mordant another skein to see what I get from the exhaust of this dye as there's still a lot of colour in the water...