Fair Isle Samples


Sample Fair Isle design in 4 different sets of colour (from 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone; Search Press)

After five days in London with Brexit continuing to take over the lives of the political journalists in the family, I got off the train in Cheltenham and fell into another full on exit as racegoers, once perhaps quite smart but now dishevelled, attempted to board the train I was trying to get off. Everything was very well managed, however, with plenty of stewards and a smattering of policemen to help people on their way. The station taxi rank was a little more challenging as a couple of men the worse for drink and if possible even worse for bad language, forgot the techniques of queuing, though fortunately on being re-educated on the subject got so solipsistic in their fury that the rest of us slipped into taxis unobserved.

Sample Fair Isle design in 3 different sets of colour (from 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone; Search Press)

Another visit to St Paul’s Cathedral for Evensong with the small person (and this time his mother as well). Happily, there was some lovely William Byrd to catch the heart and raise the spirits. The small person spotted a couple of his teachers on the opposite side of the choir stalls so throughout the service they were intermittently treated to waves of the hand of increasingly degrees of flamboyance; perhaps not unconnectedly the small person wondered out loud why the choir master waved his  hands about so much! (Explaining polyphony to a 5 year old is not without its challenges, but what is life if not an attempt to explain the seemingly inexplicable.)

Book: 200 Fair Isle Designs by Mary Jane Mucklestone; Search Press)

This week I couldn’t decide on Fair Isle designs on a mauve background so I gave up and started a different jumper with a different design on a blue background. I chose not to take the little cardigan with a pattern of knitted leaves which I am half way through as I have to concentrate to superhuman levels and that was never going to happen at the end of a busy day of housekeeping and childcare. I don’t like having several half finished projects on the go, though I discover from new knitting friends this is the norm. As I am also setting about indexing all seven years of the blog, the week ahead will be busy.

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Four letter monogram for a little girl


Embroidered four letter monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Still sluggish this week but building up stamina for another busy week in London. As the Brexit deadline gets closer, journalist daughter and son-in-law are putting in ever longer hours and, for one of them, ever greater distances with a trip to Strasbourg on the cards.

Hand embroidered four letter monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Next week is Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival which culminates in the Gold Cup on Friday. The whole town and almost everything and everyone in it gets gripped by horse racing fever and for a week nothing is quite normal. The railway station goes into overdrive as increased numbers of trains from Paddington are scheduled, all of which arrive full, not a seat to be had and shoulder to shoulder standing – an impressive number of First Class tickets are usually sold for which there is no available seat. But then festival goers have their sights set on something beyond the journey. Station car parking is cancelled so  a continuous line of buses can transport racegoers into town or direct to the racecourse. The reverse occurs at 5pm. As racing doesn’t usually start until the afternoon, the town’s cafés, restaurants and pubs fill up and spill out on to the (fortunately mostly wide) pavements; betting shops which you hadn’t noticed before, decked out with balloons and streamers, are suddenly noisy and full.  But the strangest thing is the dress code. While women dress as if for a summer wedding (bare shoulders and hats), men appear in full three piece suits, all tweedy and loudly checked. We remarked on this to the manager of our city centre bank earlier this week, who rather sheepishly replied that he would be going to the races one day next week similarly dressed!  We had Americans staying with us last year and seen through their eyes we found the bustle and jollity quaint, rather like market day in a nineteenth century novel. (Though, as I commented last year Somerville and Ross’s Irish RM novels come to mind too.) It may well be prudent to be out of town for the week, but I shall miss Cheltenham with its oddly flashy festival hustle and bustle.

Detail of hand embroidered four letter monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Coincidentally, this little monogram is for a grandchild of the American couple who were with us this time last year. As you can see, she is already 6 years old – another of those presents that has taken longer than it should! The letters are from a favourite alphabet – a sort of art nouveau crossed with uncial – I found online but with no indication as to who designed it.

Detail of hand embroidered four letter monogram (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

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