Hamble Campbell's Home Page

An occasional window on Hamble Campbell's world.

Friday, September 29, 2006

An immoderate number - who made all the photocopies?

Our very efficient school secretary said to me this morning, "Guess how many photocopies our primary school makes each quarter."

I guessed at 18,000. Actually, it was 60, 000. That's nigh on a quarter of a million copies annually. I think that's dreadful, and there's really no excuse, especially as each classroom has its own "interactive whiteboard". The teachers could easily project the worksheet (or whatever) onto the screen and the children could write any answers in their books. I said the teachers should be banned from using the photocopier and only letters going out to parents should be allowed to be reproduced. That would go down well in the staffroom. Ha! If only I was the boss, things would be a lot different.

I told her that I would put this on my blog. She said, "What's a blog?"

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Knitting Show and a Coincidence

My tickets for the forthcoming knitting and stitching show are, I am informed, in the post. It was at last year's event that I first saw a hand loom and had a little go at weaving a few picks. It was a really good show and I'm looking forward to this next one. I have even bought tickets for one of the fashion shows - the one I have chosen is for final year fashion students to display their creations - I hope they are all unsuitable for the office. My two daughters are coming with me - tickets are only £3 if you are younger than seventeen.

I have now completed my second blanket for a baby. I've not shown a picture because it is exactly the same as the last one, except that it is longer. I was amazed to find it was so much longer as I thought I had measured it carefully and expected it to be the same size as the last one.

Incidentally, a slightly spooky thing happened. After I'd finished the weaving a picture appeared in my head of a page from Deborah Chandler's book "Learning to Weave." It was a photo of some overshot, in exactly the same colours and pattern as my baby blanket. I had actually chosen the pattern from Davison's book and my husband had chosen the colours and he hasn't seen either book, so it was a funny coincidence the work ended up looking so like the photo.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

House prices

Isn't the cause of a lot of Britain's problems rooted in the fact that houses cost too much here?

It is cheaper to buy than to rent so people buy. Unfortunately the prices are too high for average and below-average earners and both parents in a family are obliged to go out to work. This means that the children are cared for outside of the family and arrangements are often expensive, precarious or unsuitable - frequently all three.

Family life suffers and children's behaviour deteriorates. This is manifested in the classroom. It is a sorry state of affairs and one that would require government action to remedy. Of course that won't happen any time soon.

Missed opportunity

What a shame it was not Jeremy Clarkson driving too fast yesterday.

Driving recklessly, which includes driving too fast, endangers lives - not just the life of the reckless driver. Every day many people are killed in road traffic accidents. Glorifying stupid driving behaviour is wrong. Too many selfish, reckless people have access to cars and drive them on the public highway - they are not going to hire an airfield to emulate the people they see on the TV.

There are many dangerous sports and hobbies - hang- gliding, pot-holing, juggling with knives etc - but none of them equate with dangerous driving. Driving is something most people do every day. It is the skill and care drivers use that governs the degree of risk we are all subject to in our every-day lives.

I do not own a car and I do not drive but I do have to cross the road, walk along the pavement, use public transport and occasionally travel as a passenger in a car. I live in hope that the drivers around me take their task seriously and drive carefully.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Stories from the Faerie Queene by Mary MacLeod

I have at long last become owner of this book - which someone has very helpfully typed up onto the internet, as you can see. I do appreciate that many would be quite nauseated by this story - but anyhow, it was my favourite when I was a child. For some reason it was given to a jumble sale and I've been on the lookout for a replacement for a few years now. Hooray for Abebooks.

These stories are taken from Edmund Spenser's poem and written in plain English for children. The English doesn't seem very plain today, as it is written in a style typical of its time - 1897. What I liked about the book was its pictures - engravings of King Arthur's knights in armour, dragons , etc. I think I coloured them in with my watercolours. The stories are pretty good too - I loved Una and the Red Cross knight.

I was listening to a radio programme the other day about Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott (weaving link!) and it made me think of my Faerie Queene book. I presume the Victorians' passion for these legends stemmed partly from the parallels between their Queen and Elizabeth I, who Spenser obsequiously made into his Faerie Queene Gloriana. Wouldn't it be lovely to be clever enough to read the thing in its original.

98% perfect.

Slow to put on the loom but quick to weave. This unorthodoxically-coloured baby blanket measures 26" by 32". I thought it was perfect but sadly, after washing it, an error appeared. I had inadvertantly woven two consecutive picks of blue halfway through, instead of alternate red, purple throughout. The mistake shows as a thin purple line and annoys me immensely. I may have to weave a second blanket as I don't know if I could bring myself to hand this over as a present, with A MISTAKE shouting out from its very centre. On the plus side, the weaving is lovely and even; the edges are pretty straight and the fabric itself is lightweight and soft.

Another thing I found unexpectedly difficult was cutting the fringe straight and even. I wanted a very short fringe so that baby's fingers wouldn't get caught. I tried cutting it using a metal ruler as a guide and then using the edge of a table as a guide. Of course all the while the fringe was getting shorter and my mistake allowance dwindling. In the end I called it a day at about an inch but the wool is very springy and mobile. Not easy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

School drawers

No, not the horrible grey flannelette sort, silly - the horrible blue wooden sort. Actually I think these are great and so useful. They were chucking these out at school and nobody else wanted them so I wheeled them back and into our hallway. I shall tart them up and paint them white and then they can be filled with all the stuff we can never find - envelopes, batteries, string, two matching gloves etc etc. (To be honest with you I have already starting putting things in them and I don't know when I'll get round to painting them and that's probably a mistake, but there it is). I shall have to produce a key/plan as there are FORTY drawers to put things in and they aren't going to be labelled. There will be a lot of sorting out and organising to do. Bliss.

Mary Ann Ostrander tribute blanket - though I am not sure what she would have made of it.

I had a bit of trouble with the threading and had to tie in two extra heddles that I'd misthreaded. That wasn't easy and in fact took me half an hour each. I decided I could not cope with string replacements so I just tied on two spare metal heddles onto the shafts with string.

Before that I realised that I had not got the pattern symmetrical and so I had to recalculate the threading to accommodate and extra 17 ends. To do this I had to lose one entire pattern sequence so there are now seven flowers instead of eight - but they are at least central on the cloth. Unfortunately this means that the blanket is narrower (it has the same number of threads but with a wider selvedge). A can of worms but I have muddled through so far.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Should the vicar send his kids to private school?

NO HE SHOULDN'T but he does.

He should send them to the local state school, of which he is a governor. (It's a C of E school and there is a space permanently reserved for the vicar on the board). I imagine his children's education is free as I think those fee-paying institutions offer free places to children of the clergy. I would say it was his moral duty to give his children's place at the school to a fee-paying family and to instruct the school to donate the money it had set aside for him to Oxfam.

A state education is quite good enough for the rest of us but the vicar thinks his family deserves better. He has set them apart from the society they live in to enjoy the good life of luxury and privilege.

The two-faced git.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back to school

Well actually my first day back was yesterday but blogger wasn't working. The children in year 3 (I'm usually with year 5) are so young -seven or eight years old - I feel a bit sorry for them struggling to write their letters and numbers.

You can tell I have had a holiday - in a few weeks I shall have lost all sympathy.

Purple emperor - first the good news then the bad

I was doing a bit gardening last week (shock horror probe I hear you say) and I forgot to mention an interesting discovery. A dead Purple Emperor butterfly was lying in amongst the sedums near my Rambling Rector's trellis, being dispatched by some very purposeful ants. I was sorry to see the thing was dead but glad to think that once it had flown in my garden. If I'd been outside gardening a bit more I might have seen it.

I don't think I have ever seen one of these butterflies before (apart maybe when I was a child I think someone pointed one out to me once), but they are one of the sights I am always hoping for (along with a kingfisher by the river, or an owl at night).

For the interested, it has the latin name Apatura iris. I think the common names of butterflies and moths are fascinating and often poetic - sometimes their scientific names too. But what do they mean? It would be interesting to have a book explaining the scientific names of our natural history - I think I have seen one for garden plants. I will investigate and report back.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Apple chutney

Our lawn is littered with apples. I think many of them are a little premature, with white or non-existant pips - mainly thanks to the high winds of the day before yesterday. The blackbirds and wasps are pleased but my neighbour, rather pointedly I thought, called down from the top of a ladder in her laden plum tree, "Must pick these, I do so hate to see the fruit go to waste."

So to try to make amends, I commissioned eldest daughter Kodakina (I believe I call her in this blog) to make apple chutney. She did so willingly and successfully and I did the bottling and washing up afterwards. I am always glad I decided to spend all that money on a proper good preserving pan a few years ago; it has been a blessing.

In case there are any other saints and martyrs out there, here is the recipe:

2llb apples, chopped small
1lb onions ditto
1/2lb dates ditto
1/2lb white and 1/2lb dark brown sugar
1/2lb sultanas
3/4 pint (0.75) vinegar
1 dessertspoon mustard seeds
Gently simmer the above in a big pan for 2-3 hours and then put into jars with cellophane covers like you do for jam making.

Pour yourself a whiskymac and contemplate the arrival of autumn.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

And for my next trick .........

This is the widest warp I've attempted - at 30 inches. It is sett at 16 ends per inch. I was a bit unsure about the sett (as usual) because it is going to be another overshot project. The overshot pattern is on twill liftings but the alternate picks in the warp-weight yarn are in tabby (plainweave). Twill needs to be sett at two thirds and plainweave is half (that is winding the warp round a ruler for an inch and counting the threads. I didn't know if I should count this as twill or tabby, but in the end I chose tabby as that's not so many ends to wind and also I thought that is what will make the bulk of the cloth - the overshot is just the pattern, floating over the plainweave.

I will let you know how it turns out. You can see I am about to start winding the warp on to the back beam. And that raddle is one I MADE ALL MYSELF. It is 36" long with nails at a half-inch spacing and I am so proud. It has only very short nails so I am using elastic bands as a lid instead of string.

I intend to make a baby blanket for a friend who is expecting an arrival in two weeks. So there is a challenge for both of us. I am going to try the Mary Ann Ostrander pattern which is on 60 ends - handy as I have 480 ends. (Now you're jealous, but don't be).

Rosepath threading warp has produced a second scarf

I haven't washed this yet as I've got to twist the fringe and that will take ages. If I don't twist or plait the fringe it will go all horrible, matted and felted and we don't want that.

I was quite pleased with how this turned out. It's lovely and thick and soft, maybe a bit too thick perhaps. AND I remembered to put in the binder weft (a plainweave pick alternating with the overshot pick) so the pattern is visible.

I could have done the beating a bit more evenly but I'm hoping it will come right in the wash. I'm saying the irregularity is there because I was still getting used to the new loom. Another problem with this particular weave is that I kept getting loops of weft at the edges, where I hadn't pulled it through adequately. It kept getting caught on the outer warp threads for some reason. Maybe I will darn them in if I can be bothered. Or maybe if I cut them they will be okay in the slight felting process. Incidentally, this is for Olympussina - she chose the pattern.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The slow train home

I went to the Pitt Rivers museum on Saturday afternoon to see the weaving they've got on show there. A mistake. I could get nowhere near the displays as the museum was holding a musical instrument making workshop for children of primary school age right in front of all the exhibits. The children were obviously having a fine old time so I left pretty sharpish and instead had a look at a very strange set of paintings of squashed insects that was on display in the neighbouring Natural History museum. Don't rush to the paintings but the museums are lovely.

My journey home is normally all of thirty minutes but this time it took over two hours. A security alert at Reading railway station meant all trains in the London/Bournemouth directions were stopped. The tannoy announcements advised anyone wanting to travel to London to get the bus. Two hours later it was all back to normal again.

It seems this is how travel is these days. Slow and painful.

Gap year rant

Following on from my rant against the Duke of Ed. award scheme, here is one against gap year jollies masquerading as charity.

What makes a group of patronising British teenagers think that they can help the poor natives of whichever third world country they're visiting by building them a school/clinic/sports centre, etc? It would be better for these students to hand over the cost of their holiday to the people they wish to assist and stay at home. That way the recipients can carry their own construction work - the local people get some employment and they'll know that the job will be done properly AND there would be fewer of those polluting air miles we hear so much about.

These gap year students often come from the most privileged of backgrounds yet they're quite happy to dress their holiday up as an act of charity and ask individuals/businesses to pay for it for them.