Yarning Along & the magic of plywood

On rainy Sunday I sat and crocheted on and off for several hours, this means I’m now wondering how much more to do. It’s a baby blanket, as you probably recall, and now measures 28″ by 31″. It’s obviously going to be wider than 28″ with a border, but I’m not sure how much longer it needs to be; as I always think that to be properly useful a baby blanket could be big enough for when they are a toddler, and can to snuggle underneath.

I thought I’d tell you about Friday, when I met a friend in London for the day. I’d suggested we visit the Museum of London as I’d seen they have an exhibition all about junk and recycling, which highlighted how previous generations fixed, saved and valued household items. This Guardian article made it look really promising, and we both thought it sounded like a winner. Nowadays, we tend to judge visits and outings by three main criteria: are they better, equal or worse than the Thames Barrier Experience, the Fan Museum or the Home Sewing Exhibition that I once went to visit, with great anticipation. I won’t spoil the first two by revealing our rating, you’ll have to visit them yourselves and work that out for yourself. You’ll probably experience them differently. Anyway, when we got to the museum we soon realised there were only three scant cases of exhibits (semi-broken pottery and tatters of leather; once shoes) and some information on the wall panels. And that, as they say, was that. The main exhibition adjacent to the cases was London Through the Ages. This hasn’t seemed to change for years, since I recognised most of it. I realised that my friend was slowly moving around and dragging her feet and when she said “I feel like I’m on the school trip” I realised just how un-fun it was and that she really wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I really, but I didn’t like to say in case she was really into it. I have to say that they really need to up their game, because it could be a fantastic informative and fun museum. As she says, it’s like stepping back into our school days where museums were dark, dingy and unappealing, without any interactive or imaginative displays. You would trudge around after the teacher, clutching your a clipboard and pencil on a string, completing the most boring worksheets.  The most exciting part was eating your packed lunch afterwards! (To my foreign readers; does this also sound familiar?!)

The MoL really doesn’t compare with The V&A, they are absolutely poles apart in terms of enjoyment, learning and fun. Last time we went was at the end of April, when as part of the Friday Late activities we ended up in a yurt, lying on giant beanbags in the dark howling with laughter. It was set up so that every time someone tweeted, the lights inside flashed. It doesn’t sound funny but, trust me, it really was! (We were alcohol free, just in case you’re wondering.) On Friday afternoon we popped into an exhibition about Plywood, to fill some time while the demonstrators set up their interactive displays for the evening. Yep you read that correctly, it’s all about Plywood. We smirked about it, ready to write the day off as being one where we’d tried to do interesting and fun activities, but failed. But how wrong we were! Plywood! It’s absolutely fascinating! You learn how it’s produced, how it can be moulded, about its strength and durability, its lightweight nature, the inexpensive way it can be produced, watch historical and contemporary films from around the world showing it being made and fashioned into all kinds of items. There are scale models put forward for patents for different items, the current innovative ways of using it and the laser cutters which I didn’t really know anything about… I never realised plywood had such a varied history, or has so many uses. It’s just not something I’ve ever spent much time to dwelling upon. I guess you haven’t either have you? Here are a few uses: post-war housing, aeroplanes, tea-chests, Singer sewing machine cases, surfboards, speedboats, chairs, tables, stalls, beehives, sports cars, car parts, and many many more…Check out this Time Out article about the exhibition if you don’t believe me. It’s on until the beginning of November, if you can get to it. It’s free and well worth allowing a good half an hour, or more, if you like to watch all the films and read everything.

As for reading: I’ve been listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce as I’ve got the sequel The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, but it’s been 4 years since I heard the first. I couldn’t remember much about how it ended. I started listening to the first chapter on the way into London on Friday, intending to jump to the last one after that. But I was gripped and am now an hour from the end. I’ve listening to it in 10 minute bursts whenever I can and while I crocheted on that rainy Sunday. It’s a truly beautiful story. I wonder if anyone has replicated Harold’s pilgrimage? I bet they have somehow! I should Google it.
I always have an audio and printed, or e-book on the go, and I’m reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It was a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p, the other day. It’s funny and well written. I can’t help picturing the actors from the TV series, although some are very different to those described, but it does bring it alive.

Have you been to any interesting exhibitions lately? What are you reading and making? Do you find you’re less productive in summertime?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Badges, heather, gorse and blankets  

Yesterday I went to the fabulous V&A in London, officially: The Victoria and Albert Museum. The museum’s focus is upon decorative arts and design. The beautiful rooms are crammed full of amazing objects which you can see anytime for free, they also put on staggering good ticketed temporary exhibitions. I’m lucky enough to be a member and so can go into these anytime without booking and for free. Yesterday’s was the best I’ve been to: You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970.  There are many album covers from the period on display (I’d like a full list of these, must check the website) and many badges for sale in the shop at the end. You are forbidden from taking photographs in this exhibition, which turns out to be a good thing because you’re not distracted.

I went in at around 3:30pm, totally immersed from the start in the music and clips which automatically play on your headset as you move around the rooms, reading, looking, thinking. Near the end I led on a giant beanbag watching three walls of projected footage from the Woodstock festival, held in 1969 on a farm in Upstate New York, trying not to sing too loudly! It was a mesmerising exhibition. Noticeably no one had mobile phones out (this is rare anywhere, you’ll agree) and by the end I nearly fell on the floor with surprise when I looked at my watch and it was 6pm!

This is from West Cornwall last week. The colours of the sky, rocks, heather and gorse are stunning aren’t they? Quite a few times we saw cars left in gateways, off the tiny winding Cornish lanes, as people hopped out to take a photo of the same.
This my Yorkshire blanket, the first crochet I’d ever done, when I picked up a hook and tried making trebles. It’s pretty funny that the first crochet I ever did resulted in a full blanket! Mum made the starting ring and I carried on, with her help. It’s The Yorkshire Blanket because we’d hired a cottage there over Christmas 2008 and this is what I worked on, before going down with influenza (not “flu” which is typically a heavy cold.) I remember feeling like death warmed up for most of the time! No Christmas dinner for me, I was too unwell. That’s proper ill that is!

Anyway I’m really not sure what to do with this blanket, because we started off with the claret coloured DK single stranded. I carried on using a mixture of yarn that Mum and my Mother in Law passed on to me. Others I picked up from charity shops. It’s all acrylic and the tweedy appearance is because some yarn was thinner than others, so I ended up holding it double two strands at one time. Of all the blankets I’ve subsequently made this is still my favourite in terms of colours; it’s more ‘me’ I suppose. Of course there is a real discrepancy in weight between the centre of the blanket and the rest. It was initially a ‘can I learn to crochet?’ practice piece, but turned into a full square blanket because of course I could, and I couldn’t stop. It really doesn’t work with the weight of the outside rounds pulling at the lighter weight centre. There’s been no unraveling however. My darning must have been sterling!

So, I’m wondering whether to undo it and donate the yarn back to charity shops, crochet it all back up but with a two stranded DK centre, find out some way of undoing just the red centre and redoing it or……

And my current blanket, The Unnamed Ripple, as I sat in the shade a few days ago catching up with a few rows. This one’s going to a friend who lives on a canal boat, I ought to get cracking with it so she can use it this winter.

Don’t forget that if you’re in UK you can enter my giveaway to win a copy of Edward’s Imaginarium before noon on Sunday 25th. Leave a comment on the post linked here.

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