Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What's a Gansey?

Name- John Grant (17341725074)                                               
Photograph courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

It's a seaman's knitted jumper (also called a guernsey) as it originated in the Channel Islands centuries ago. The fishermen needed warm jumpers which would resist sea spray and rain so they used wool with a tight twist and were knitted on small needles to give a tight tension. 

The chap in the photo above is wearing one but it's not part of a prisoner's uniform! He was a fisherman who was arrested in North Shields for stealing some money from a bar in a pub in 1904. No he wasn't sent to the colonies, he was fined 10 shillings!

The use of the ganseys gradually moved north and into Scotland and as they did so the patterns which were originally plain gradually became more complicated. They were traditionally knitted by the wives and daughters and patterns were designed for specific villages. Some families had their own designs which enabled them to identify a fisherman in a case of drowning.

So what's this got to do with this post? Well in 2016 the Tall Ships arrived in Blyth, Northumberland on Friday as part of the 60th North Sea Regatta and I posted about it here.

In January 2019 a crew is due to set sail from Blyth, Northumberland to recreate the journey of a local man William Smith, who discovered Antarctica in 1819 but was never credited.

Some keen knitters from Blyth, Astrid Adams & Janice Snowball successfully applied to Northumberland County Council's Community Chest fund for funding to knit ganseys for all the crew on that trip. They were successful, However their research showed that although other areas in Northumberland had gansey patterns Blyth didn't have its own pattern so they set out to design one incorporating the Tall Ships logo, waves, rigging ladders, anchors & the Northumberland flag. 

They put out a request for knitters to produce the ganseys. The knitters will receive a kit which includes the special gansey wool, needles and the Blyth pattern. The ganseys take approx 150 to 200 hours to knit but there is plenty of time as the voyage doesn't start until January 2019. There is also a hat pattern for those who maybe don't get accepted to knit the gansey or feel that a gansey is too much of a commitment.

Each gansey will have a label with the knitter's name on it and the crew member who receives the gansey will be encouraged to write to the knitter. 

I've always wanted to knit a gansey as my Dad & brother were part time fishermen but the wool is very expensive & I mean expensive! So I applied about a month ago & apparently the project managers were inundated from applicants from across the globe. I didn't hold out much hope of being selected but today I got the invitation to be a gansey knitter! So I'll be looking forward to receiving my kit in the very near future and I can't wait to start even though I have a trillion balls of wool stashed away all over the house. Hopefully I will get around to knitting another later for my brother!

You can see the details of the project and pattern photo on the County Council website here. I wasn't sure about the copyright so I didn't copy the photo.

Before anyone asks, no the bloke on the Blyth gansey photo on the Council website doesn't come with the kit!

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Knitting for Neo Natal Units

The photograph above is one I took at the knitting group I joined where we knit items for various charities. As well as knitting hats & scarves for the Apostleship of the Sea and Seamen's Mission, Alzheimer's groups, orphanages in Zambia & India, we also knit for the neo natal units in the North East of England.

The clothes in the photograph were ones that a guest speaker brought to show us what they need. We had been knitting patterns from the Internet & weren't sure if they were appropriate. I was knitting very small stuff but I noticed that other things being made that I thought would fit babies who were not premature.

It was really difficult listening to some of the information relating to the items she brought. They collect wedding dresses that people have very kindly donated. How many people keep their wedding dress in the cupboard until it's ancient! They have seamstresses who remove all the trimming & then take the gown apart and make beautiful burial gowns for the babies. You can see one on the right hand side of the photo. There were also little pockets and cribs made from ice cream cartons for the really tiny ones as well as a range of clothes for the babies so they can have clothes to wear right up until they leave the unit.

We were supplied with a good range of patterns for all the garments so we can vary what we knit & in a range of sizes.

We have a great laugh whilst we're knitting & there's no bitching, well apart from about politicians as there's no dearth of ammunition in that quarter from home and across the globe!

This is a set I made a couple of weeks ago, but you can't really see how small it was. I should have put something next to it to show its size in relation to the knitting. Sorry about the picture quality, it's off the phone as I had forgotten to take it in daylight. I was taking it to the meeting and couldn't find the camera. I couldn't resist adding the bows!

This is a batch of hats, mitts & bootees. They don't take long to knit so you don't get tempted to put them away!

This is the latest set, minus the buttons for the moment. The church pays about £7000 for a container which they will pack with all kinds of things to go to Zambia at Easter.

Again apologies for the picture quality. I must get back to taking photos with a proper camera as I think the phone must be going ga ga. It has shut down a few times recently for no apparent reason & I've had a job resuscitating it. When I have, it's lost the plot with date & time. They're great when they work but awful when they don't.
Maybe it's a warning I need to get a new one. It's a shame because I've liked this Windows phone & only had it for 3 years. Well that's usually 2 years longer than my children keep their iphones but we're not on the same planet when it comes to spending dosh on phones! I can't believe people spend £30-40 a month on a phone! There again I'm a child who grew up in the period just after the war when money was tight so I have a totally different approach to money!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

I Thought I had A Nasty Virus!

I got a shock when I was looking at a sewing and crochet blog tonight that had some really useful information on it when suddenly a big white screen popped up backed by the Microsoft or rather A Microsoft page. An American voice told me my computer was infected and I had to ring them to get help to get rid of the virus. I had to do this immediately as my credit card details, personal information, Facebook Login etc was being sent to the scammers.

Well at first I thought this is a scam and tried to shut the browser down but I couldn't close the page. So I shut down the tablet and rebooted, only to find the same page was back. This made me a bit worried and I almost went into panic mode but then my brain went into gear. (Well what passes for my brain nowadays). I don't have any programs, it's a tablet so they couldn't have installed a virus or malware. Also if it was really Microsoft they would know it was a UK registered tablet so no point in giving a US Toll Free number! Yes scammers at work here.

So how to get rid of this problem as I'm no techie &  couldn't remove a programme as there aren't any. Luckily my husband has an old laptop so I looked up some information.

It was really just a pop up window on the browser so all I had to do was press control Alt & Delete to bring up the Task Manager, locate Internet Explorer  & then End Programme.


I'll be avoiding those really nice Craft Blogs now as it was obviously an ad which must have popped up as the mouse moved over the page. They do tend to have loads of them. On the plus side it will probably save me a lot of time, I can rummage around for ages looking at nice patterns & craft ideas.

There really are some nasty folks out there trying to scam you and it is a shock when that message and the voice start and you can't get rid of the blooming thing. Key is not to panic.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Google Doodle!

Have to say I don't often like Google's doodles. Half the time I don't know the people they're commemorating or the event and the other half I don't like the doodle. I suppose they're trying to cover people and events globally so if I took the time to look into them it would be very educational. Nowadays I'm trying to clutter my brain up with remembering only the essentials. Just wish you could defrag your brain like you can with a computer!

I haven't been posting much recently as I don't have a computer that's any use for blogging. I'm stuck with a tablet at the moment which is more difficult to use. Howeverfound a draft of a post about this doodle when I was checking the Blog. 

I saw this one before Christmas liked it but didn't finish my post about it. It's commemorating the 105th anniversary of Roald Amundsen's successful expedition to reach the South Pole. After that the base served as short respite for the crew of Captain Scott’s expedition to the South Pole – a journey that they would sadly all die on during their return. 

It's a very clever doodle with its igloo shape but for me it looks like a snow globe. Maybe they meant it to!

Why not take a look.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

I Need to Remember Summer!

Believe it or not this is a beach in Scotland!

Sometimes good things come from bad. On last summer's Scottish tour in May we were meant to visit the Cairngorm Mountains but our trip up on the mountain railway was cancelled. Our Aviemore driver suggested he take us to the Glenmore Visitor Centre as there was a forest for walks, a beach, reindeer centre & a decent cafe in case the weather changed.

I had never been to this lovely place and to be honest although I did enjoy my previous year's trip up the mountain railway even though we needed ski jackets, woolly hats & gloves at the top. This was a different & lovely experience being on a beach in Scotland surrounded by the Cairngorm Mountains.

The weather helped too as it was a very pleasant sunny day. Lovely!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Never thought I'd like a frock with viscose!!

Have to say I have wondered for years why on earth so many clothes have been made in heavy cotton and linen which take an age to dry, are a nightmare to iron and crease so badly when you wear it. Cotton and linen are comfortable to wear in hot countries but can be such heavy fabrics when you go on holiday with the flight weight restrictions. 

My daughter doesn't understand why creases really naff me off but I'm pretty sure it's because I'm a child of the 'sixties when we wore clothes in fabrics that didn't crease much. Well I did!

I used to make a lot of my own clothes. Shift dresses were in fashion which were a doddle to make, took very little fabric (think mini) and the fabrics were so easy to care for. I always avoided what I called the "dreaded viscose", that was a horrible material which creased badly and I still avoid it today! The fabrics I often used were usually made of the wonder fabric "Crimplene"! If you don't know about Crimplene it was quite a thick polyester fabric made by ICI, easy to sew, was reasonably cheap, came in brilliant colours and textures, hardly ever creased, was comfortable as it stretched as you moved, never lost its shape, you could drip dry it and it was absolutely brilliant to take on holiday.

It went out of fashion as the lighter weight polyesters like Trevira came in and then gradually polyester cotton became fashionable and finally pure cotton took over.

Now that the price of cotton has rocketed polyester fabrics have certainly made a comeback. I noticed last year that it was very difficult to buy fine cotton or even polyester cotton blouses everything seemed to be produced with man made fabrics.

I used to love wearing dresses when I was young but as I put on more weight I've lived in skirts, trousers and tops. In a dress I looked like a sack of potatoes tied in the middle. However since I lost weight last year I thought I'd try to buy a couple of dresses as they are more fashionable now. Every single one that I've tried on recently has been produced with man made fibres, mostly polyester but some have been awful, thin and with fabric that creased badly. They've also been unlined and really expensive.

However I ordered one in an online sale which was polyester and the dreaded viscose but it also had elastane in it and the reviews were so good I thought I'd risk it.  

I love the fabric, gorgeous feel to it and not a crease in sight when I opened the tiny bag it had been posted in. It's so comfortable and so dressy. I know it will be brilliant to take on holiday as I'll be able to take it out of a case and put it straight on with no creases. It will wash, drip dry and not need ironing. Fabulous!!!!! Unfortunately no use for a hot climate but OK if there is air conditioning.

The only trouble is I keep wondering whether I look like a 'sixties throwback in it. Sadly that photo isn't me & I don't delude myself that I look anything like that in the frock.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

I Went to Mass in a Mosque!

I've been away for over 5 weeks visiting Singapore, Australia & New Zealand so am trying to catch up with blogging as I have had very little access to Wi fi.

In October I was in Andalucía taking a tour to Antequera, Seville, Córdoba and Granada. I hadn't visited any of these places apart from a brief trip to the Alhambra in Granada about twenty years ago so was looking forward to new sights. 

When you're working trying to keep an eye on passenger making sure they don't slip behind & get lost, it's hard to take enough notice of your surroundings. You also can't hear everything the guide says & take decent photos so it's yet another place I need to visit again.

Our trip to Córdoba was on a Sunday so it was quite busy and it was also very hot. We had a guided tour of the Jewish quarter of Córdoba which was very interesting. Quaint little streets & not so crowded as a lot of the old towns you visit.

There are no Jews left in Córdoba now which is sad but the old synagogue has been beautifully restored & it is a lovely little place.

Córdoba was founded by the Romans between 169 and 152BC and during the period of the Roman Empire, Cordoba was one its most important capitals. Seneca the famous Roman stoic philosopher, statesman, orator and poet was born here. 

The Roman Empire began to decline in the 4th Century and in 711 the Muslims arrived and the city became part of the province of the Domasco Caliphate.

Muhammad Al-Ghafiqi was a renowned Muslim eye surgeon in the 12th century would you believe. He performed cataract surgery all those years ago, successfully!!!!

On 29 June the keys of the city were handed over to Ferdinand 111, the Castillian king and so began the Christian era of Córdoba.

Even though it was late in the season the place was fairly crowded probably due to the unusually warm weather for early October and as I said it was a Sunday.

I loved the entrance to this restaurant.

This was a quieter cafe.

This is the Street of Flowers because it's normally full of gorgeous geraniums  but the flowers had all died off in the hanging baskets sadly.

This house in the little plaza the street led to still had some lovely bougainvillea in flower.

The Mosque of Cordoba known as the Mezquita, was begun in 785 and according to Islamic tradition it is made up of three parts: the Minaret or Tower, the Saha or Patio of Ablutions and the Praying Room.

It remained in use until 1236 when the city was reconquered and in 1239 it became the Cathedral of the city. Sadly some of the original part of the Mosque was destroyed but thankfully much of it remains and the Mezquita is unique in being a Mosque Cathedral. In fact it is the only mosque kept in Spain and is one of the biggest in the world. It is around 22,400 sq metres, 175 north to south and 128 metres east to west.

The following are photos of the courtyard or patio to the Mezquita which was surprisingly cool despite the strong sunshine and the heat outside in the streets. Those architects knew a thing or two about design!

In the photograph below in the courtyard you can see the channels running from the circles where the orange trees are planted. There would have been water running down these channels which would have been extracted from a well now missing. These would have been the places that the Muslims performed their purifications. 

The Belltower

The photographs below are of the roofed galleries surrounding the courtyard.

As it was Sunday the interior of the Mezquita was closed to tourist visitors for the Masses to take place inside in the cathedral. I went to Mass and afterwards you are not supposed to use cameras on the way out. However I saw quite a few people taking photos so I grabbed my phone and clicked as I walked so they are not brilliant.

As the mosque was closed to the public it wasn't lit and I didn't have time to get out the camera so the photographs are poor and are limited to the mosque not the cathedral. Apologies! Next time I visit I'll go when it's open to the public and you are allowed to take photos then.

These columns and arches were built in the 10th Century and are just the ones you pass on the way to the cathedral. There was so much I didn't get to see so I have to go back!

It's an amazing building just a pity I didn't manage to use my camera. I'll have to go back again (good excuse) to get better photos. Luckily there were no people around to block the view which will happen when it's open to the public.

I didn't get a decent photo of the cathedral part after Mass sadly, I should have been a bit bolder and just got the camera out. It was lovely but a great contrast to the Mosque being of late Gothic design.

Entrance to the Mezquita and cathedral from the courtyard

View from outside the Mezquita looking into the courtyard

Outside the Mosque the tourist photographers were out in force.

This photograph is blurred because I was in such a rush to take it in case the police didn't want you taking photos of them. They were well armed but not in such great numbers as I saw in Paris. I suppose this is one place that could be at great risk being a cathedral inside a mosque.

More views of the exterior of the Mosque. 

Next time I go back I'll make sure I visit when the Mezquita is open so I can get some better pictures.

It's a lovely little city and I only saw a small part of it so I bought myself a book with beautiful photos. I don't usually do that nowadays as I have quite a few that I never look at. However I have been reading up on the city so I'll know what to look at when I go back.

What's a Gansey?

                                                Photograph courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums It's a seaman's kni...