Alison Crowther-Smith

Archive for June, 2013

Chips, blocks, etc

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

You know how I often make *friends* when I am out and about?  Well, you do, ‘cos I’ve told you about it.  About the lady in M&S in Lymington who told me her life story while she waited for a taxi and I waited for Mark.  The people I meet on trains.  The people I attract wherever I go.

For example, in Southampton, a couple came running up to me and Mark yelling Oh My God, you have BLUE hair!  We are on a treasure hunt and we need to find someone with BLUE hair! Note:  it’s not blue, it’s lavender blond.

And, every time we cycle to Langport which is quite a lot as it’s a nice cycle there and has some good hills to practice on, we stop for a coffee, which Mark goes off and gets while I sit on a bench, with the bikes.  Well, we’ve had to change bench locations, because literally every time I sat there, some random local would come and sit with me and have a chat.  Last time, there were two of them, a lady and then we were joined by a man and to be honest, as they recognised each other, it was a bit of a relief as it meant I didn’t need to talk to her anymore.  Turns out he is originally from Turkey (I think) and she used to be a customer of his years ago when he owned and ran a mobile kebab van in the town, but then he left Langport to move to Dorset – and he’s just come back to live in Langport again. She told him, quite sportingly I felt, that she was troubled by the fact that she owed him £4 from those days. I note, however, that she did not give it back to him…

The time before that, it was a lady who had walked into Langport from somewhere about 2 miles away, done a lot of shopping in the Co-op (which is by my former bench), loaded herself up with about 8 carrier bags – and then realised that this being a Sunday, there was no bus back to the place 2 miles away.  It was clear that she couldn’t walk there with all the shopping.  I advised either leaving it in the Co-op and taking it home 2 bags at a time – which would have been quite a work-out and probably not achievable before the store closed.  Or, getting a taxi.  She thought this was genius.  A nice looking mature lady taxi driver came to her phone call and Mark came back with the coffee just as I was popping the last bag in the boot and waving them off.

He just shook his head and handed me the coffee.

The last time we went, we got the coffee from a different place and sat on the long benches further away from the Co-op and the bus stop.  Also, Mark didn’t go off and leave me. It was fine.

Now I find that this magnetic personality, not a problem for Mark or Florence – not that they repel people, but something about their faces or posture does not encourage uninvited dialogue – has been inherited by Lily.

Two weeks ago, we were having some friends over for supper.  (Here, by the way, is a little de-tour regarding the word supper.  If I am invited for supper I expect it to be less formal than dinner and I usually enjoy it far more as I don’t have to get dressed up. I also prefer giving supper rather than dinner as it can just be a single, homely course plus some wine, cheese and fruit).

So, this was just supper for some friends and neighbours, plus Mark, me and Lily.  Six in all.  At about 15 minutes before the suggested time, up the path comes a figure, which I knew at once wasn’t one of my guests, so I went to meet her, mainly as the  dogs were loose and you know how nasty Rupert can be with unexpected visitors.  I was expecting to be given a leaflet asking me to go to a talk about Hinkley Point or attend a village Circle Dance – whatever they are.  I have no idea but they are a la mode in Puriton, where one is announced each month at least, in the Village Hall and they must be good as the car park is always packed then;  also they have made a huge circular sign saying:  Circle Dance! adorned with a circle of foot-prints all round the edge, which they leave outside the Hall announcing what is happening.  I haven’t been.

Anyway, this woman did not have a leaflet and I could see at once that she was crying.  Also, she appeared to be unwell, unsteady on her feet and distressed.  When I went right up to her, she seemed frightened, but I really thought she was going to faint into my peonies (I’m joking! It was the poppies…) so I reached out, and she let me take her hands.  Large, dry, rough hands, like a man – and so at odds with her small, painfully thin body and face.  She stared right in my face, which I was trying to contort into a reassuring smile, and said:  are you Lily’s mum?

In short, she said knew Lily having met her on the bus that runs from Wells to Bridgwater and which Lily sometimes catches.  Lily has, I know, made *friends* with another woman from the bus, who lives in a caravan outside the village.  But this woman isn’t her.  Lily does not know who she is or how she knows Lily’s name – and where to find her.

But I didn’t know that at that time so I called Lily because I had a feeling we ought not to let her just stumble off and if Lily knew her, I could make some calls or do something.  To be honest, I didn’t have a very coherent plan.  The woman point-blank refused to come in  the house, so we sat outside.  Mark came down, unaware of this unfolding mini-drama in the front garden, put the kettle on and made us all a cup of tea.  As Lily and I sat on a bench by the kitchen with this woman, who was so shaky she could not really hold or drink the tea, up the path came my friends.

It was completely surreal.  A moment where two such different worlds simply collide.  Friends with wine, holding some flowers and opening the gate, laughing warily about the killer-Dachshunds who might greet them.  And in the garden, on our kitchen-window bench, a complete stranger who somehow knew Lily, and who was in a most dreadful state of distress and fear.  I am not proud of the fact that one of my muddled thoughts concerned roasted veg and cous-cous, but in my defence, I was also thinking about Social Services and domestic violence, since this seemed to be this woman’s fear.

Mark and Lily – and Lily never left this woman’s side – drove her into Bridgwater and roused up a fantastic WPC from the locked bowels of the police station, who in turn arranged a safe place for the woman to go and then took her there.  I delayed the food and poured wine and water and stayed with our friends until they came back.

Lily was incredibly calm with the woman, who clung to her like a child though I’d say she was in her 40s herself.  She talked to her like a kind, calm adult, held her hand, wiped her face, gently put her jacket back on her when she tried to take it off…sat with her in the back of the car and stayed until they left for Wells.

But once home, back to the curious and laughing, happy friends, she was upset.  And baffled.  How did this woman know her?  Lily really does not know.  But I think I do, even though she may not recall it.  I am sure Lily will have attracted this woman, who surely was desperate and lonely and afraid, in some conversation maybe weeks or months before;  chatted to her as Lily will to anyone, clearly told her where she lived – maybe pointed it out from the bus which passes right by the cottage – and the woman has somehow, in the fog of God knows what was going on in her mind and body, remembered it.  Because it was kindness.

This true, sad and odd little tale divides people to whom we have related it, including the friends who were here.  But whilst I think it is strange that she knew Lily though Lily is adamant that she does not, if my theory is true then I am not sorry.  In fact, I’d rather be a stranger-magnet than turn anyone away.  Whilst Lily may need to exercise some caution in future, she learned something that evening. First, cous-cous can be kept warm and is perfectly fine for serving even after an hour of sitting, so long as it’s covered but not re-heated.  Second, never turn someone in distress away.  Cous-cous can always wait.


Workshop Places for Autumn 2013

Monday, June 24th, 2013

There has been a cancellation for the Knitted Christmas workshop on 9 November, so now there is one place available, which you can book here, or send the link to anyone you know who might be interested.  It’s fun!  It’s sparkly!

The September Shibori workshop is full, but there are two places now available for the October date, which you can book here.  It’s fun!  It’s, um, wet…? (It’s not really wet, we use the washing machine).






Rowan Tapestry

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

This was one of my favourite Rowan yarns, a lovely mix of soy and wool, so it had a silk-like quality, being partly based on plant fibre.  This gave it a beautiful lustre, while the wool made it superb for felting.  (Note: it felts very enthusiastically due, I think, to the spinning, so proceed with caution).  Add to this the roving dye – really well done so there was little ‘pooling’ – and I think you had a pretty perfect DK.

So, of course, it was discontinued.

Well, it’s back.  Not from Rowan but from Lotus Yarns. This quality is called Sunset and I have knitted two items in it now.  Incidentally, I bought mine from this website, Be Inspired Fibres.  Great choice of lovely yarns, I also had some other yarn posted to a friend for her birthday and she was delighted too.

The colours I got in Sunset were this, a soft grey, pink-lavender and also a more vibrant silky blue.

The shades are very gentle especially the pink/lavender one, but there are some brights in the shade range too.

I have the old Tapestry shade charts (of course I do) and the shades are different.  But the yarn is exactly the same.  Composition, gauge and meterage.  The ball bands are exactly the same too – except they don’t mention Rowan of course.

So, if you’re still in mourning for Tapestry and eBay scouring is not working, I give you Lotus Yarn’s ‘Sunset’.  You’re welcome!

That picture, by the way, was taken on our trip to Poland in late April.  It’s in a cafe on the main square in Krakow.