Goodbye London (for now)

On Saturday, Sayed and I moved out of our little flat in Walthamstow. We’re sad to say goodbye to the area, our fantastic neighbours and friends and the daily life we’d settled into. Nevertheless, it’s time to move on.

moveSo, I spent most of last week scratching my head staring into boxes, then forgetting what was inside as soon as they were taped shut. Now, after a sweaty day packing and unpacking the van (kindly driven by Sayed’s cousin John!) I’m back at my parents’ home getting ready for the next stage – Glasgow!

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On Monday, my moving zeal extended to hoovering the bat droppings out of my parents’ attic. Needless to say, I’ve calmed down a bit now.

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Living with parrots again – involves sharing your food..

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..and tea!

 

Glasgow

Screen shot 2014-06-02 at 08.52.01In September I’ll be moving up, up, up to Glasgow, to study textile conservation. It’s a two year MPhil course combining historical and scientific research with hands-on skills; it involves everything from learning how to display and store fragile textiles, to gaining an understanding of the ethics and compromises involved in conservation projects. This broad and challenging mixture is exactly what I want out of a career, and after visiting the studios on an open day, I finally took the plunge and applied last year. Having bitten my nails through the last few months, I’m still slightly delirious after recently being offered a place on the course. Some big changes are afoot!

I’ll be sad to move out of London, and away from family and friends, but can’t wait to make a start towards a career as a textile conservator and get to know a new city. I’ve only visited Glasgow for five days altogether, so there are many things I’m yet to explore. Lately I’ve been simultaneously reflecting on the places I know and love in London, and the places I’m yet to discover and fall for in Glasgow, so here are ten of each.

(in no particular order)

Ten places I’ll miss being able to stroll down the road/ hop on the Underground to visit:

1. William Morris Society and Emery Walker Trust, Hammersmith. I’m trying to make the most of the time left helping at these two gems, making lino cuts for workshops (in previous blog posts here and here) and learning how to use Morris’s original press.

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2. Leighton House. The recently re-opened house of the Victorian artist Frederick Leighton – worth visiting just for the ‘Arab Hall’ decorated in tiles from Syria, Turkey and Pakistan.

3. Golders Hill Park, Hill Garden and Pergola

4. Queen of Sheba Ethiopian restaurant, Kentish Town. Wonderful curries and fresh roasted (in front of you) coffee.

5. Victoria and Albert Museum. My favourite museum to wander/ wonder around.

6. Walthamstow marshes and the Lea Valley

7. Yildirim Bakery. This little place on St James Street, Walthamstow, does excellent freshly-made Turkish breads filled with cheese, lamb, spinach or potato.

8. International Supermarket, Walthamstow High Street. I sincerely wish I could take this well-stocked, well-priced little Turkish supermarket with all its fresh tomatoes, coriander, mint, fennel, pointed peppers, birds eye chillis, scotch bonnet chillis, lemons, water melons, sweet mangoes, quinces, plums, pomegranates, olives, cous cous, pistachios, flat breads, orange blossom water and rose petal jam with me to Glasgow. I realise now how spoilt I’ve been to have it on the doorstep.

9. Camden Arts Centre. Good for an interesting variety of contemporary art and working or lazing in their peaceful garden. Just round the corner from the Freud Museum too.

10. I can’t decide. The William Morris Gallery, The Windmill Portugese Restaurant in Walthamstow, British Museum, Somerset House, National Portrait Gallery, Alison Jacques Gallery, both the Tates, the Hayward..

Ten places in Glasgow I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time:

1. House for an Art Lover. This house was designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh, who also designed the beautiful Glasgow School of Art which sadly suffered fire damage in May.

2. The Mackintosh House. A reconstruction of Charles Rennie and Margaret Mackintosh’s house.

3. The Modern Institute. A contemporary art gallery mentioned in a recent article on Glasgow’s generally fantastic art scene.

4. Centre for Contemporary Arts. The programme includes exhibitions, film, music, literature, spoken word and festivals.

5. The Burrell Collection. I’m particularly interested in (surprise surprise!) the textiles in this enormous and varied collection gathered by the shipping magnate Sir William Burrell.

6. Botanic Gardens

7. Bibi’s Mexican restaurant. I’ve never been to a Mexican restaurant, so I’m looking forward to trying a new cuisine at a highly-recommended eatery.

8. Tenement House Museum

9. The Yarn Cake and all the other Glasgow wool shops I will soon be happily foraging in.

10. Orkney and Shetland. Not in Glasgow, I know, but after moving 400 miles, another 200/400 to visit these beautiful islands shouldn’t be too difficult.

The Textile Conservation course at Glasgow has its own blog here – textileconservation.academicblogs.co.uk and Hannah Sutherland, who will also be joining the course in September, has an excellent blog that can be found here – hannahsuthers.com.

Softer

Last week a new textile exhibition called Softer opened at the Mill. A follow-up to last year’s Soft show, Softer  showcases the variety of textile talent in E17 and includes a crocheted reindeer head, an applique wall-hanging, a patchwork piece and a book of children’s stitches, to name a few. Oh, and our knitting group’s piece, Softer Light is proudly on display in the window!

Take a look at the Mill’s website for more info, or, better still, come and see the show in the flesh fabric.softeropening1 softeropening4softeropening5softeropening2softeropening3 softeropening6 softeropening7

The Weekend

millfete02         This weekend I helped out at my local community centre’s Midsomer Mill Garden Fete. With the theme of Midsummer Murders in mind, I put on my most saccharine sweet flowery dress (no pictures of that, thankfully). millfete01millfete06millfete03millfete04millfete07millfete05millfete08millfete09millfete10millfete11millfete12millfete13To the tunes of The Moodswingers, we sold plants and knitted goods, ate cakes, drank tea, painted faces, blindfolded local police officers (yep – and charged them 20p for it) and generally felt like we lived in a sweet little village. Thanks to Kate and Isabelle for masterminding the day!

Museum of the Year

wmgalleryEarlier this month, the William Morris Gallery officially became Museum of the Year.

Despite volunteering at the gallery for nearly a year and being fully aware of how genuinely well-curated and engaging and mind-nourishing the place is.. the news still came as a fantastic shock.

Here’s what the judges said: “This truly is Museum of the Year. Its extraordinary collections, beautifully presented, draw the visitor engagingly through Morris’s life and work and through the building itself. Setting the highest standards of curatorship, and reaching out impressively to its local community.”

Read all about it here on the ArtFund website.

Mitred squares

Here’s my (slightly) modified version of Aunty Penny’s pattern for a mitred square. These measurements are specifically to make a 10x10cm square in Debbie Bliss ‘Angel’ mohair yarn.

Debbie Bliss kindly donated this and lots of other beautiful yarn to The Mill, so we’ve been putting it to good use for our group piece for the forthcoming Softer textiles exhibition.squares

Abbreviations

k – knit

k2tog – knit two together

sl1 – slip 1

psso – pass slip stitch over

Cast on 31 sts on size 5mm needles.

Row 1 and every following alternate row: Knit.

Row 2: k14, sl1, k2tog, psso, k14.

Row 4: k13, sl1, k2tog, psso, k13.

Row 6 and all following alternate rows: Continue reducing in the same way, with decreased stitches forming central diagonal line, until 3 stitches remain.

Following row: sl1, k2tog, psso.

Cut yarn and pass end through loop.square

Many thanks to Aunty Penny for putting me on to this. Here’s her original, excellent advice:

20th April 2013

“I just discovered an interesting way of knitting squares, where you decrease a stitch in the middle of each row, forming a diagonal, as follows.
Cast on an odd number of stitches, 2n+1
Row 1: knit n-1 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 2: as row 1
Row 3: knit n-2 stitches, slip 1, k1, psso, knit
Row 4: as row 3
Continue until there is only 1 stitch. You can either pull this through, or start on a new square by picking up n stitches along one of the edges of the first square and casting on a further n.”

24th April

“Re my comment of 20th April on diagonal squares, I’ve just been trying different decreases, knit 2 together or knit 2 together through back of loops, and for garter stitch it doesn’t seem to matter which one you do as long as it’s always the middle stitch and the stitch before that you knit together and you are consistent. These squares are particularly fetching in rainbow yarn.

I’ve also noticed that it’s a way to get a scalloped edging. Instead of carrying on decreasing until you’ve got one stitch remaining, you stop sooner and then just knit straight.”

Softer Light – A Group Knitting Project

Right now we’ve got an exciting group knitting project at The Mill. Inspired by the light shining through some pretty pastel-coloured baby clothes in the window recently, we’re knitting up a wooly stained-glass window to be exhibited at the next textile show Softer.

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Here’s the work done so far. The beautiful thing about collaborative knitting projects is seeing it grow so quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing how much we can do in one week, two, three..

Sunday Photo Challenge at the William Morris Gallery

This Sunday I’ll be helping out at the William Morris Gallery’s Sunday Photo Challenge. The gallery’s recently been nominated as one of the ten finalists for the Museum of the Year award. I, for one, am incredibly pleased about this.

As part of the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year 2013 Photography Competition, visitors to the gallery are invited to borrow a camera and explore the space with it, hopefully taking a picture or two they feel worthy of entering into the competition. It’s all free, and a great opportunity to see the gallery in a new light – through the lens. Oh, and did I mention there are prizes?

There’s more info on the WMG’s website – http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/whats-on/events-calendar/sunday-photo-challenge-

and the artfund website – http://www.artfund.org/news/2013/04/02/museum-of-the-year-photography-competition

If you miss this one, the photo challenge is also on following Sundays 28th April, 5th May and 12th May.

The Mill

It’s high time I paid my respects here on my blog to a favourite local hub of mine – The Mill, on Coppermill Lane, Walthamstow. mill

A former library that was closed down, the building was rescued and revived by local residents determined to maintain a space for neighbours to meet, play cards, read the paper, exchange language skills or do anything they liked. Over a year on, there’s an exhibitions programme, children’s activities, a book club and, very importantly, a twice-weekly knitting circle. After a long period of absence I made a return to Friday morning’s session, to find a hive of activity, ready for a craft sale tomorrow afternoon. If you’re in the E17 area..

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Click here for more information about The Mill and its programme.