Monday, 26 February 2018

Shells and blankets

I have quite a few ideas about how I want to remember Oman and they are all textile related. Actually, they're all weaving related.  The one that has been percolating the longest is a triptique with the themes of the urban, mountain and desert landscapes.  That is one for long days of sitting and weaving after lots of thinking, collecting objects and dyeing yarns.  That leaves the sea, a place that I have become closer to in the last year.


My regular walks along the beach here in Al Hail are full of interesting things.  Fish of all shapes and sizes, birds of My many varieties, wadi dogs, the occasional cat, not a few horses, far too many eels and sea snakes, and shells.  Lots of shells.  I'm particularly partial to cowrie shells, mostly because they were a rare find on the beaches of my childhood and they were always treasured.  They used to be used as currency around this part of the world and it's not hard to see why.  I still love them all and now have quite a collection.  I'm still pondering what to do with them all.  There are lots of other shells that wash up on the beach.  Like these beauties.




I was very excited to discover the murex shells, but then I learnt that the dye comes from the critters that live inside them.  When I came across one stranded by the tide, I elected to return it to the sea rather than torture it for its purple.

Mostly the shells come in different patterns of white and brown - many shades of brown.

Like this fella

However, many of them come in GINGER!




Or combinations of both.


Then I discovered these beauties




How do you spell callista?  That's right - PLAID!!!

I'm thinking that cashmere might come in those colours.  What do you think?




Monday, 23 October 2017

Goodbye Bluey

On Saturday morning Bluey scooted at the back door as usual and disappeared.  This morning David found him curled up safely in the wheel well of my car quite, quite dead.  He had probably been there for a little while given the fluids I washed off the paving before David could come home and see them.

He often came out from under my car when we arrived home in the Land Rover, it was a safe place where he could sleep and wait.  We don't know what happened, it could have been a car or a fight, but at least he's not just missing.

Well, that's not really true, there's a little Bluey sized hole in our lives right now and it's likely to stay there given the whole leaving Oman, going to France and then to Australia senario.  Our lives over the next little while will not really be condusive to introducing pets.

And now with apologies to Ogden Nash

Bluey was as brave as a barrel full of bears,
In a blink he'd chase lions down the stairs,
He always yowled like a tiger in a rage,
And would never cry for a nice, safe cage.

He was the runt of the litter, but was the sole surviver.

Sometimes he was a little odd, but always laid back

 He was very good at relaxing on his chairs






He liked to sit with you wherever you were,


On the roof 

In the sewing room



On the couch




He protected us from the marauding hordes




And like to hold hands during his morning cuddle in bed


We'll miss you Mr Blue






Tuesday, 14 February 2017

A little distraction

Well, David said that he was going to Cairo for work.  I think he was just avoiding being in the same country as me coming up to a French exam.  It may be that they don't let us know what kind of questions are going to be on the thing, or it could be that I might be a little bit of a perfectionist, but I'm a bit stressed.  A bit, just a bit...okay quite a lot and David would be perfectly justified fleeing the country except that he has to sit the exam when he comes back.

So I'm here with a couple of hours to go and at complete saturation point.  I can't actually remember anything, but that appears to be beside the point.  I very carefully took myself out this morning to try to be calm and had a perfectly nice visit to Muscat City Centre.  I managed to remember to pick up the moisteriser that I had run out of weeks ago (and received a lovely complement about my hair  - it went like this:

Very Lovely Salesgirl (VLS)   "I love your hair, it looks lovely."  Me:  "Thank-you, I grew it myself" (flick) - it should be note that I was wearing it out because the temperature is under 30 degrees.  VLS (completely missing the irony because English is her second, third, fourth or fifith language).  "Better than a salon, don't take it to a salon!"

There, a rather lovely thing to say.  It was especially nice because it came on top of the need to take two or three classes to convince our French class that I am not a blonde.  Non redheads will probably have no clue how astonishingly aweful it is to be called a blonde after years of copping quite a lot of "stuff" for being a redhead.****

Don't get me wrong, I loved being a redhead.  It was sometimes horrid, but mostly it was awesome.  I'm still a redhead, just a grey and white one.  It's weird.  Very weird.  But I refuse to succumb to the dye bottle, and lovely lasses like that VLS help me along the way.

Where was I?  Right, the moisteriser. I remembered the moisteriser because I had time to kill while I waited for a response from Customer Service (via whatsapp, because everything is done via whatsapp here) about getting some bags for my vacuum cleaner.  Apparently shops don't keep that sort of thing anymore (or quite possibly ever) so I needed to contact this random person, who apparently belonged to someone's customer service and he would tell me where to come - in all likelihood that would be Ruwi -50 kms across town and pretty much inpenetrable unless you have some sort of native guide.

After the moisturiser there was the Amouage shop where I discovered that they had just released a new perfume based on cherry blossom and rose - very apropos all things considered.  It is gorgeous, and a bottle came home with me (when I eventually left).  Then came coffee and a little pondering.  There had been no phone call.  Sigh.

Suddenly I was sick of waiting.  Waiting for a vacuum bag for goodness sake. I decided I was not going to drag myself on a 100km round trip in vile traffic when I was going to have to do it this evening as well.  So I went upstairs and bought a new vacuum cleaner - for 20 rial - with a one year warranty.  We're only going to be here one more year and the two hours it would take to get the new one would literally cost me twice that.  Sad but true.

I feel much better now.  Especially after the chiropracter, coffee and cake.  Now for that exam.  But first a gratuitous Bluey shot.


****Before I get gutted by all the blondes I know (including my very lovely youngest sister) I want to be very clear it has nothing to do blonde jokes either.  

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Whoops! I blinked and it's 2017!

This year has been a year of contrasts.  There has been enormous amounts of travel, we bought a house in France (or rather finished buying a house in France), we started learning French (dear God!), I graduated (finally), number one son married the love of his life (we're pretty fond of her too), a dear friend left this world far, far, far too soon, and life generally trundled on (actually I'm still pretty much in denial about Michelle's death and I think our first visit to Canberra is going to be quite confronting.

The most fabulous thing that happened in 2016
I actually write a lot of blogs in my head.  There seems to be a running commentary inside my head while I'm doing things and I take photos to sort of punctuate the commentary.  Unfortunately it very rarely comes out of my head and into the aether.  But maybe today will be different.

We have just come back from Europe.  David had meetings in Brussels and I stayed for a in Sept Forges.  David of course is straight back into work, but I have the luxury of actually starting the year in a more relaxed manner - except for French, that is never relaxed.  You know, they say that when you dream in a language you're getting the hand of it, but I'm not sure that nightmares about conjugating verbs is quite what they mean.  However, I was able to return the wrongly packaged ink cartridges in France, in French and no-one laughed - well not to my face anyway.

Where was I....whoops, the wind has just started barrelling about and blowing pillows off the bed.  Maybe it will actually rain.  Oh dear a crow just got blown off the electricity wires......

One of the things that I've really enjoyed this year is weaving.  I've played around with my little saori loom and had a great time.  Then I decided to weave curtains for Sept Forge.  The windows in the house face the road.  Now, the road is just outside the front door, literally. It is a private road and there are very few houses on it, but people do walk down it and can peer inside and see what we were doing, if they were so inclined and if we were there.  In my head the windows are quite small, but they're not really, in fact two of them are doors.  But I made my plans anyway.

Right on the road.

Our kookaburras laugh at people walking past.

Things were going swimmingly.  I decided on a pattern (Swedish Mosquito Lace - very nice and windowy), ordered the thread (a lovely 20/2 white unmercerised cotton from Halcyon Yarns - which arrived almost immediately), planned the warp (this is when I began to question my sanity), spent a week winding a 15 metre warp (with 537 ends - which is a squidge over 8000 metres in case you were wondering), and then went to wind it onto the loom.  David was helping (he's very brave) and it went pear-shaped almost immediately.  The raddle leapt to it's doom and suddenly I was hanging on to a whole lot of out of control threads.  The inevitable happened.  Two warp threads broke and all the others decided to do something else that evening.


First there was the eight threads that had glued themselves together with fluff from the green linen.


Then there were these lot who decided to party on together.  Notice the lovely smooth, untangled right hand group?  

Two days later I had untangled the mess and managed to get it on the loom.  I didn't throw anything or scream even once.  David very sensibly left the room and then fed me wine when I came out.  See why I married him?  All was well.  Mostly

That was when I realised that when I had made adjustments to balance the pattern I had neglected to remember that my loom was only 60cm wide.  The warp was wider.  Okay, so now there are threads being wound off the back beam and onto little knitting bobbins as I weave - or through the brake, or under into the warp, or where-ever it wants to when I'm not looking.  I finally tied everything on and started weaving.  Cool, it looks like it's going to work!  Except for the selvedges, the tension at the selvedges came loose, horribly loose.  Sigh.  I battled on and kept the selvedges sort of okay by shoving bits of cardboard and chopsticks in as I wound on.

Last night I got to just over two metres of fabric and the right selvedge went out on strike, it was time to declare selvedge defeat.  I decided I had enough to make a pair of curtains for the smallest window, so this morning I cut it off.  There were some pretty ugly bits.



So about those selvedges.......

Whoops, that's where a chopstick missed.

But on the whole it was looking okay



I gave it a little wet finishing and things started looking even better.  After I pressed it gently with my awesome 6kg dry iron a small miracle had happened.  It looked just like it was supposed to, except for the green bits, the original was all white.





The all over look


The lace.  These little windows just magically appear during the wet finishing.

And just look at those selvedges. 
Tomorrow I'll tie the warp back on and continue weaving.  Next time we go to France I'll be able to take curtains with me!  Cheers everyone!!


This is the best way to learn French, drinking wine with the neighbours.





Sunday, 3 April 2016

After a long break a quick hello.


Gosh it's been a long time since I posted an update.  There is a draft sitting around waiting for me to remember where I was going with it, but in the meantime this is what we did yesterday..........


Me and this bloke....




Drove into Wadi Mistal




With this bloke
One old goat


And this lovely lass

An intrepid photographer


And saw some goats...well, we saw a lot of goats.




On sheer cliff faces

even sheerer (and higher) cliff faces
In trees

On Quad bikes

There were baby goats with the cutest tails


A very new goat with a very jaunty tail

And very happy goats

Smiley Omani goats

We saw men removing wandering wadi from the road

with palm fronds and shovels of course

Some grand vistas.  Some from high up.
The ubiquitous felaj system, but this time with hanging vegetation 

Some were far away (Wadi Mistal is HUGE!!)

with added ruin in the foreground
Some had villages nestled in them

al Qurah Village where I spied a young girl curled up on her window sill reading.

And in those villages, there were (apart from the goats)

Cats doing what cats do ie sitting next to the felaj watching the water.
It was a lovely, lovely day and finished with wine and beer in Ali and Bob's garden along with multitudinous chirruping birdlife an Henrietta - the world's most spoilt chook.  

Life is good.