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Right now I can’t sit at my loom with a view

Well – I now I can, but for a while I didn’t want to work there!

After quite a few weeks of fairly consistently overcast weather and the most wonderful Summer rains ( for the first time in eight years), the weather has cleared and the world is looking just wonderful!

My walk this morning took me down the fence-line of our estate – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it was a spectacular morning, and walking down the fence give me the best view of our beautiful mountains. After all, who needs Table Mountain when you have the beautiful Northern Drakensburg, with Mariepskop standing proud in the morning sun. the second reason for the avoiding the trails – for the next couple of months – is that after the drought, the rains have given rise to an upsurge in the insect population, and the beautiful golden Orb spiders are out in abundance for the first time in years.

These magnificent creatures string their webs across the pathways, and when I go for a stomp around the trails in the morning, I tend to have my head down, watching my feet rather than looking where I am going. This is mainly because I’m pretty clumsy and tend to trip over my own feet if I’m not careful, and unfortunately, it means that I have been known to walk into a web without realizing it was there. these webs are incredibly strong, given how delicate they are, and I once read that the tensile strength of a spider’s-web is greater than that of a steel cable.

This beautiful lady was particularly spectacular and about the size of the palm of my hand. Her web was to the side of the path, and although you can’t see it in the picture, it reflected as gold in the morning sun. It set me wondering about the possibilities of spinning Spider Silk. I’m guessing it would be possible, but one would need to destroy a huge number of spider’s webs to make anything worthwhile, so please don’t feel tempted to give it a go!

I was reminded again of the strength of the silk that spiders use to construct their webs, when i went to my loom with a view the other day. I have a small table loom which lives out on my patio, and it is one of my favrouite places to sit and work. However, with the inclement weather I hadn’t used it for a while and, noticing a strange looking collection of “stuff” in the corner of the stand – this is what I found:

Ok – the picture makes it look a lot more terrifying than it really is, and for those of you who don’t know what this is, it is the nest of a Brown Button Spider. The spikey things that look like the Corona Virus are her eggs, and she is fiercely protective of them. The White patch at the top of the picture is her nest, and if you look carefully you can see the distinctive red ‘Hourglass’ mark on her belly. Fortunately, she is nowhere near as nasty as her fearsome cousin, and I decided to let her stay so that I could watch the progress. Any thought of work was relegated to the back burner for the duration.

A few days later, I found that she had left her nest – for whatever reason, but the eggs were still there. i decided to move the nest to another location so that I could go back to work, and was astounded by the effort that it took to move the web. It was incredibly resistant to any sort of interference, and it was quite a struggle to get it off the corner of the loom stand.

Those of us who are lucky enough to work with silk yarns or spin silk thread will know what a beautiful material it is to work with. It never ceases to amaze me that something of such humble origins – it comes from insects after all – spiders and worms…….! – can be so magnificent. And yet when I looked closely at my temporary loom stand resident, and find a Golden Orb across the path, I believe that I can understand after all, because the creatures that produce the fibre are every bit as magnificent as their priceless product. We might not like them very much, but they are still just that – Magnificent!

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From where I sit at my loom with a view…..

my world has changed colour almost overnight!

I am once again stuck at home with not even a glass of wine to lighten the mood! But what can we do? I guess that because I’m a ” glass half full” (even if the bottle is empty and cannot be refilled at the moment) kind of person I am trying to put the time to good use. The fact that I don’t have an income worth mentioning right now is another subject altogether, but what I do have is food on the table and a roof over my head in the piece of paradise I am blessed enough to call home.

The past few days have seen Tropical cyclone Eloise ravage the Lowveld and while many areas are now involved in mopping up operations, we were spared the brunt of the storm and have received wonderful soaking rains, resulting in an explosion of colour as the Purple Fruited cluster leaf trees have suddenly fruited in the most spectacular way I have ever seen. The Raisin bushes are all budding and will soon be covered in little yellow flowers to be followed by their little yellow berries, and the ubiquitous Marula’s are hanging heavy with fruit.

Small creatures abound and we have been visited by all manner of these – including another dreaded squirrel in the house. from tiny little tortoises to elegant little Sand Snakes in the flower pots there is plenty to look at and wonder about after good rain in the lowveld!

With so much to fascinate and restless legs that regularly take me out for long walks, it is not always easy to concentrate on the nitty gritty of my daily working life, but it has to be done – big sigh!

One of the things that I find I am really missing during this time is the stimulation of teaching workshops – yes I know you’ve all heard this before, because I keep on going on about it. This has led to me starting to put a lot of my teaching down on paper, and I am even experimenting with putting some of my processes on to video. None of this is my natural habitat, and those of you who have taken a workshop with me will know that there are seldom printed notes to follow and I tend to teach ” off the top of my head”, adjusting my approach to suit my students and the pace at which they are working.

The past couple of weeks have seen me trying to make the process of warping a harness loom ( for this term read four shaft, or eight shaft etc) accessible to people who are not able to attend a workshop. I started by writing down what I though was a simple instruction, and the more I wrote, the more I found that there is, in actual fact, no such thing as a simple instruction. Likewise, when it comes to putting it all into video format – there is so much that needs to be said an demonstrated. What i am finding most difficult however, is to try and think through the process with the mind of a beginner.

For me, putting up a warp is a familiar process, which is a routine part of my weaving life. To break it down and explain what I am doing without being able to demonstrate in person is soooo difficult! In ‘real life’ my hands can show what I leave out in words, and the demonstration and the verbal instruction work hand in hand, each piece of the act filling in the bits that the other one leaves out.

This is a tremendous challenge for me, but I have to admit to the fact that I am really enjoying it. The Patreon page was the start, and it feels as though this is a logical progression from there. The ultimate plan is to have a series of techniques available as video/workbook courses. It is my hope that this will allow for a whole lot more flexibility when it comes to teaching what my students would like to learn, and instead of being locked into learning a specific technique on a specific weekend at a workshop, there will be a variety on offer and a freedom of choice.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more workshops, and I promise that as soon as life settles back down into some semblance of what we used to call normal, the notices will go out……., but perhaps what is happening here is that I’m developing a second string to my bow.

Most people of my age are looking forward to retiring – but why should I? After all there is still a beautiful view from my loom!

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From where I sit at my loom with a view

We are all living in the hope…..

that 2021 will allow our lives to go back to some semblance of normality, but that really doesn’t look very likely – at least not in the foreseeable future. Let’s face it, 2020 was, apart from ridiculously challenging, also very interesting. It rocketed the human race out of an apathetic and destructive comfort zone, and made us think. Indeed it made me think on many levels, and I’m not sure that I have reached any conclusions yet either.

I think that the most important lesson I can take away from 2020 is that we all need to learn to adapt. I read a fascinating little book once called ” Good-bye Tiger, Hello Rat” by a man called Jan Bader, who, at the time was resident on a game farm just outside Hoedspruit. His premise was that the Tiger will go extinct in years to come and the Rat will thrive, and all because, if you take the Tiger out of its habitat it cannot survive. In other words, it lacks the ability to adapt, whereas the opportunistic Rat can adapt to pretty much everything apart from an overdose of Warfarin.

For me, 2020 was about trying to adapt what I love to do to a situation in which society closed down and social contact was all but taken away from us. At first the impact on my tiny little business was inestimable. A certain friend, who, if she reads this piece will know exactly who i am talking about, had been nagging ( yes nagging) me to become more visible on social media, and to think about putting some of my teaching on-line. I had been resisting her advice for ages, with all the excuses in the world. Everything I could think of to convince myself that it was not the way for me to go…… and then suddenly, if I wanted to carry on doing what I love, it was the ONLY way to go! This tiger suddenly became a Rat.

From the Facebook pages to the ZOOM calls, to the Patreon page (www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands) , right down to this little blog ( in which I seldom mention textiles or weaving (- perhaps that also needs to change?), it was all terrifyingly out of my comfort zone, but as a the year progressed I realized that this type of communication, and on-line teaching and sharing of information is now, and most probably will be for years to come an integral part of our lives.

Most importantly, I think I learned that adaptability is a life skill, with which too few of us are familiar. Sure it’s scary, but also exciting, as learning something new must always be. I always thought that to call someone a ‘Rat’ was an insult – perhaps not so much anymore!

One thing that hasn’t changed though is the way my brain buzzes with new ideas and things to try, and techniques that need to be explored, so stay with me and watch this space to see where the journey takes me over the next few months, and meanwhile, all of you, take care and stay safe

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From where I sit at my loom with a view….

The result of the grey skies is now everywhere around me….

One of the things I love most about living in the bush is the startling, almost overnight changes that happen after even the smallest amount of rain. My morning walks have become a treasure trove of little jewels of colour and life everywhere I look, and I am constantly stopping to look and marvel at the richness around me after the good rains a few weeks ago.

The little pink and yellow flowers on the top left are the flowers of the Sickle Bush, a hard, thorny, spikey pioneer plant that grows mostly in areas where the ground has been disturbed. It is a vigrously growing bush which visually has little to recommend it, until these, exquisite little pom-poms of colour take over, and suddenly they are everywhere I look. I call them Ballerina Flowers – not quite sure why, but that’s my name for them.

The little Blue flower is a tiny, low-growing little plant that is easily overlooked, apart from the fact that it is Blue, which is unusual colour for a flower, and this one hides a little secret. If you look below the flower itself in the picture, there is a little Green point which, at first glance, looks like a new leaf, but in actual fact, it is a tiny little pouch which holds four or five drops of crystal clear water, providing a source of water for some of the tiny creatures which so often escape our notice. once the rains have disappeared.

The cluster of Cream coloured flowers is from the Purple cluster leaf, and oh boy, do they smell bad – like decaying meat. Their function is to attract the flies that polinate the flowers, and in the Autumn the bushes will be covered in deep Purple seeds, a little like the seeds of the Combretum.

These long rambles through the bush have eaten into my weaving time lately, but there is so much to see and enjoy out there that I am often out for far longer than I should be.

My weaving life over the past weeks has not really been that productive. Well, that’s not quite true – lets rather say that it hasn’t been visibly productive, but the Patreon page is bursting with posts on Weaving Drafting , and the pick-up study has wound to an end, together with instruction for all the techniques that we covered, many of which will be included in the Christmas Table Runner project.

The temperatures are now in the high thirties almost every day, and outside activities must take place early in the morning. This means that work-time in my studio has become limited. My studio isn’t outside – obviously, but it is quite exposed, and gets very hot during the Summer. This means that my ‘inside’ looms are getting my full attention. The Silk shawls are making progress and I have plans for the next two in the pipeline, but, before that can happen, I am so excited to be going away for my first weaving workshop since the dreaded lurgy changed our lives.

So, watch this space for pictures and stories from our week at the Beautiful ‘Crafter’s Lodge’, starting this coming Thursday…..

I simply can’t wait to catch up with a few of my weaving buddies – I miss them…… I hope that other crafters are able to get together responsibly in small groups and enjoy the social aspect of what we all love to do, a little more than I can!

Till next time then – watch this space…….

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From where I sit at my loom with a view

The sky is grey and I am learning something new…..

Over the past two days we have had rain!!! Now, that might be the opposite of exciting for most people, but where we live it is cause for celebration. Over the course of the past ten days we have had approx 140mm, which is put into perspective when I tell you that for the past three years our annual rainfall has been well below 400mm in total. So, if you hear loud music and a strange tapping in the background as you read this, it will be me dancing on the table in delight.

Even the muddy craters caused by a passing Giraffe can’t discourage the appearance of tiny green shoots in the bare ground

First rains in the bushveld are always special, as the depleted veld suddenly comes alive again. Within hours of the rain starting to fall, the trees start to show signs of life and a faint green haze appears over the ground and by the end of the week our surroundings will look like a parkland and Michael will be servicing the brush-cutter in anticipation of taming the jungle around the house. A whole day of rain yesterday gave me the opportunity to sit inside and do not very much at all, so I took the gap and focused on something that has fascinated me for a while now – I started knitting a sock! Actually it should be KNITTING!!!!! a sock….

Those of you who know me best will know that knitting is not something in which I willingly indulge. I can knit, in fact i can actually knit quite well and can cable with the best of them, but the addiction which grabs so many people just isn’t there. The odd ( usually very odd) scarf is probably as far as I have been with a pair of knitting needles in years, although I have to admit that it is quite nice to have something to keep my hands busy in front of the TV in the evening, but it still doesn’t inspire me to any great heights. The idea of knitting socks though, has long been intriguing, and so, finally I have taken the plunge – on a rainy Sunday in Hoedspruit – and I have learnt a lot, not necessarily about knitting socks, but rather about learning.

When I teach a weaving workshop I try and encourage my students to allow themselves to learn from experience. “If it’s not perfect it’s not the end of the world, because the next one will be better ” kind of experience. Starting off on my sock knitting experiment yesterday, I realized that this is really hard to do! I’ve never thought of myself as a perfectionist, nor as OCD, and of course I’ve always believed that I practice what I preach as far learning from experience is concerned. Well, my sock knitting day yesterday showed me that I don’t actually do any of the above.

I set out with the best of good intentions and after my first noticeably glaring mistake, pulled it all out and started again. Got a bit further along the second time around and then made another whoopsie. Too fr along this time to pull the whole thing out I tried undoing a small section. Bad light, dirty specs and fine wool and needles turned this into a disaster and out came the whole lot to begin for a third time. By this stage I was beginning to get a bit tetchy you understand, so I walked around the house for a while in a bit of a fog, and made myself a mid-morning cup of coffee. I don’t like it when things don’t go according to plan – I find it unsettling, but in any event I decided to practice some self-discipline and pick the wretched thing up and persevere.

As I went to deposit my coffee mug in the sink I caught sight of a cushion cover on my sofa. Made right at the beginning of my weaving life, donkey’s years ago, it is quite an attractive piece of olive green and dusty brown chevrons on a cream background. People who come to visit often comment on it – it is, after all striking and attractive – and CHOCK A BLOCK full of errors. I remember making it actually, and figuring things out as I went along without much of a clue what I was doing. I finished it off and made it up as a reminder to myself that I was a beginner and nothing was going to be perfect.

Suddenly, my sock-knitting light went on in my head, and I gave myself to be a beginner again. As a beginner sock knitter, my sock was not going to be perfect – in fact it is way off the mark, but when I look at it I will know where the mistakes are, and next time around I will know where I went wrong and what I can do to make it better. But, most of all, I recognized myself in my beginner students – wanting so badly to produce something wonderful without having the know-how to do so . With this little pearl of wisdom lodged in my frustrated brain, suddenly everything settled down and I picked up the project once again, and gave myself permission to learn and to make mistakes, because this is how we learn.

So, apart from learning a few basic principles of sock knitting I learned more than a few much more valuable lessons: that we all want to do it magnificently first time round, that I don’t recognize myself when I see myself in my students, and that by suggesting that they embrace their mistakes and leave them in their work, I am asking them to do something that is almost impossible.

My sock is progressing well, and it is far from perfect, rather like my teaching methods I think. There are a bevy of new mistakes and wrong bits and pieces, but it will, in the end look like a sock, and next time around the territory will be a little more familiar and it’s mate will be a bit better, and eventually, one day, I might produce a decent looking sock. The teacher in me is trying to learn to understand the student who believes that they will produce a first time masterpiece, and if the first attempt isn’t as great as they would like I would like to learn to encourage them to try again and look past the mistakes to the possibilities instead. I like to think that I will no longer discourage them from going back and doing it better before they carry on anymore though, because my sock has taught me that we all want to do it perfectly the first time round.

As a sock its a long way from perfect, but I couldn’t have asked for a better lesson in teaching on a rainy day in Hoedspruit!

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I haven’t been sitting at my loom with a view…..

This morning I woke up with that feeling that life is not quite complete….. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. We’ve seen our pets in this mood too – they move from one place to another, put their heads up, sniff the wind and move again, never quite settling long enough to relax, or indeed allow us to relax. Well, that is how I feel this morning…. poor Michael – perhaps I should warn him that it’s going to be one of those days!

It has been a really busy month – a trip to the Smelly City to do my distribution, multiple posts and little videos for Patreon, ZOOM calls with my weaving buddies, ordering some gorgeous cottons from Be Inspired for a new project and long walks in the wilderness areas of my estate, as well as the usual nitty-gritty of domestic bliss. Yet, in spite of all the activity, it feels very definitely as though something is missing. This morning I worked out what it is – I am severely lacking in loom time!

“How can this be?” I hear you ask – ” that’s all she does – in fact it’s what she does. How can she not be doing what she does?”….. Well the answer is simple, and I know that it has happened to all of us. The chores and the routine and the mundane take over, and before you know it they RULE your life!

There is more than one reason for this paradigm shift in our lives. In my life I can most definitely think of two without even blinking an eye. The first is that someone has to do it…… this, as every woman who is reading this post will know, is because it is inbred in women that the home must come first. After all if I don’t make the bed who’s going to make the bed? I’ve tried to make it a rule in our house that the last person out of the bed makes the bed – HA! What the person who shares the bed hasn’t worked out yet is that if that were the case and we stuck to the rule, I would be up with the lark every morning of my life and accomplish that much more…….

The second is that what I do – in terms of weaving that is, has to be classified as pleasure, not work, and I was taught from a very young age that you are only allowed to play when the chores are done.

So, with the lockdown and the extended time I’ve had at home one would think that the weaving productivity must have sky-rocketed. Well, “One” thinks wrong, but the bed is made and the house is more or less in order and even some basic maintenance is being attended to, and slowly, insidiously the chores and the desk have taken over my life and my Loom with the View is very neglected.

The on-line aspect of my life has also impacted on my weaving time. I love teaching weaving, and am even enjoying the challenge of doing it this way, but I have to say, that the stimulation of teaching face to face is severely lacking. So is the spontaneity – the questions, which open up a whole new train of thought, and those ‘Eureka’ moments when somebody discovers a different ( and often better) way to do something, and most importantly, the laughs and the banter, are all missing in in the on-line world where things are altogether more ordered and serious, to the point where I feel that what I really need is a jolly good belly laugh. I’m beginning to take myself far too seriously!

This is why I am soooo looking forward to the arrival of a couple of weaving buddies – whoop whoop! Now that the provincial borders are open people are moving around again and over the next couple of weeks, not one, but two weaving buddies are coming to visit and I can’t wait! Before they arrive though, there has to also be some loom time. I have three looms with half woven projects on them and another project in the planning stage, so over the next couple of days, my time at my desk ( and the kitchen sink) is going to be limited and I am going to love my looms. After that I’m going to enjoy some social time and love my looms some more in the company of people who understand the difference between ‘warp’ and ‘weft’ .

What a lot to look forward to – Happy Friday!

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Last week I left my loom with a view….

Well for a couple of days at any rate and headed to the smelly city for the first time since March! A quick ‘splash and dash’ so to speak to finally collect my consignment that has been languishing on the Ashford packing room floor since March! I felt as though I had been let out of jail…!

Driving through the pass for the first time in almost five months felt a little surreal. Nothing had changed, only I was a little disappointed to note that I had missed the glorious Winter colour extravaganza that characterizes the vegetation on the mountains during the cooler months – I can’t say ‘cold’ months cause it doesn’t normally actually get terribly cold there. The Winter colours are something I look forward to on my way back from Clarens in July, and if you drive through the pass at the right time of day, the sun shines on the bush and it is a riot of colour ranging from bright Yellow, through lime Green and Orange, on to deep rich Reds. I always think that one day i will use those colours in my weaving, but so far, i haven’t got round to it.

Nothing much had changed in the Smelly City either – apart from all the semi-hidden faces that is. A quick visit to Eastgate Shopping Mall showed that people are definitely observing the request to stay at home and avoided crowded spaces. Woollies was almost empty in spite of the fact that it is sale time, and the rows of clothing at 50% off, stood neatly and undisturbed, a fact which belied the observation that the traffic was almost as hectic as ever.

It was good to see my JHB friends again – an important part of my life which I have missed, and we also went out for a meal – that was just wonderful! I am so sick and tired of eating my own food that I could scream, so going out for a meal was a proper treat. The widely spaced tables in the restaurant gave a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere to a popular restaurant which sometimes feels a little frenetic and busy, and…. we were able to order a bottle of wine to enjoy with our meal – first prize.

The boxes which were our primary reason for going to the metropolis were duly unpacked and redistributed, and the remaining stock was brought home, with the result that my stock shelves are looking nice and healthy again. It’s all been entered into the shop and now I can focus on catching up on my Patreon posts which took a back seat while I sorted out the order.

It feels good to be back, and for once I’m not planning another trip in three or four weeks’ time. I think that I am getting used to the idea of being more home-bound, and I am certainly more productive this way even though the income is severely diminished. BUT….. my boxes and shelves are well stocked and I can afford to let my imagination run riot with all the new cottons and yarn that is calling me. First things first though – a linen warp on my smallest 8 shaft – first linen in a very long time, and I am loving it, cotton for a ‘Mapron’ on my 70cm, and lots of work to do on Patreon – I’m not going to relax for quite a while yet.

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From where I sit at my loom with a view – the madness continues…..

Way back on the 21st March when we went into lockdown we all though it would be going back to some sort of normal by now – well – we were wrong weren’t we?

When I restarted this little page, I was determined not to mention the dreaded lurgy, and I have to admit to finding the whole thing now, rather on a level with Brexit as far as the boredom stakes are concerned. But more importantly, i am beginning to feel that the social limitations that have been imposed upon us (for our own good, according to the powers that be), are beginning to really get to me. I NEED to see the faces of the people around me. Right now, I feel as though I trundle down the aisles in Pick ‘n Pay in the company of a vast hoard of possible thugs and bank robbers. Worst of all, I don’t recognize the people that I know – and then I feel like an idiot, because they still seem to recognize me!

On the plus side though, I have – at last – the time to do all sorts of things that I have been thinking of doing for some time now – not least of all putting some of my teaching on-line on the Patreon platform. For those of you who don’t know what Patreon is, it is a platform, that allows people who have something to offer to the world at large a place where they can market themselves, their art, their passion and their skills and earn a small income from doing so. The lurgy has effectively nailed my feet to the floor and kept me at home, where I am spending a large proportion of my time at my desk – when I’m not at my loom or stomping around in the bush….., and while I am now earning a small income from the Patreon page, this time at my desk is also showing me a side of myself that I never really became acquainted with before.

For a start there is this……. I never saw myself as putting my thoughts out there for all to see. Oh, and Facebook – after years of having a Facebook page, I now finally do something on it! Oh, oh – and I have ‘friends’ – and I can see their faces, unless of course they have decided, in solidarity with the lurgy mongers, to post a profile pic of themselves wearing a mask.

Then, there’s Patreon (sorry to be a bit of a bore on the subject), which is forcing me to learn all sorts of new things – and those of you who know me best will know that i am a perpetual student. Yesterday, i filmed a short video of myself demonstrating a particular weaving process on my phone. Following that, I used the programme that I downloaded a couple of weeks ago to edit ( listen to me here….) said little video, convert it to MP4, before uploading it to my Youtube channel so that I could post it to my Patreon page. Talk about a learning curve!

It’s just as well my family don’t read this blog, because by now they would be rolling around on the floor, in hysterics, begging me to stop because their stomachs are aching from laughing too much! But the bottom line is that it is all absolutely, honestly and truly, without a word of a lie – true! Talk about being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century – and, to be quite honest, its not such a scary place after all.

Now, since I have started ” putting myself out there”, and am feeling more comfortable with it, the next thing I have to figure out is a way to deal with the lurgy monsters, and get over my aversion to pseudo thugs and bank-robbers. That challenge can wait until next week though, cause the shopping is done, and I don’t have to go out again for a while so until then I can pretend that the world is almost normal!

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From where I sit at my loom with a view – there are new worlds that need to be explored.

A fitting representation of my current state of mind……?

Anybody who knew me ten years ago simply can’t believe that I am doing what I’m doing today. Yes, the weaving has always been there and always been a part of who I am, bu technology on the other hand was always something I studiously avoided. Anything, from sending an e mail to researching a topic on-line, simply was not part of my make-up. My children used to joke that I would never learn to use a computer because, although I was very comfortable with pen and paper, a stone tablet and a chisel would probably have been more appropriate. Now, I sit at my desk and communicate with people all over the world at a touch of a button, I chat away on Facebook and share my progress on Instagram without raising an eyebrow, let alone a sweat.

Perhaps my life works in ten year cycles or something, but whatever it is, I now find myself starting off on yet another voyage of exploration, as I explore putting some of my teaching on-line. I don’t think that I will ever learn not to say ‘NEVER’ , because this is just another one of those things that I was NEVER going to do!

I suppose that the current situation has us all changing our minds about what we will or will not do, and much as I was always adamant that for me, on-line was not that way to go, I now have to admit that perhaps it is the way to go. Photographing work as I progress, making videos of basic processes, writing patterns and putting instructions into an understandable text form seem to have wormed their way into my working routine – and trust me, it is much easier to teach a class live than to try and write (ok – type then), all the intructions step by step – but somehow I’m managing to get it done – and I’m taking the first steps in a whole new direction.

My decision to start a page on the Patreon platform was not taken lightly, and I thought about it for a loooooong time before actually taking the plunge. Now, as I work through my ideas for sharing my knowledge, I find that I’m actually enjoying the process very much indeed – AND – perhaps even more importantly, I’m finding that teaching remotely is giving me the opportunity to share a lot information that so often gets glossed over when teaching a workshop – pleasant surprise no.1. It is also, in a strange way, almost a more concrete way of sharing information, in that the subscribers to my Patreon page can go back again and again to reference information.

So, slowly I am being won around to the value of teaching and mentoring on-line – this is me we’re talking about here – the Latent Luddite – getting excited about what our new world has to offer….. and I’ve love you to join me on the journey, so please feel free to visit me at www.patreon.com/weaveatbrooklands for a small taste of what I have to offer in my Weaving Diaries. I would love to see you there……

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From where I sit at my loom with a view – the world is full of 50 Shades of Beige.

At this time of the year the weather is Hoedspruit is, in general, just wonderful. Balmy days, cool evenings, just comfortable temperatures providing a welcome respite from the overwhelming heat of the Summer. It seldom gets terribly cold here, but it does get dry….. and when I say dry, I mean bone-achingly dry. In fact I believe that when we receive less than 400mm of annual rainfall, the area becomes classified as ” Semi-Arid”. This has been the case for the last four years, which means that by this stage of the Winter everything is dry and dusty and, as I said – Fifty shades of Beige.

There is light Beige, Medium Beige, and dark Beige. Brown Beige, Grey Beige, and Beige Beige- and I could carry on doing this for a while. Today in particular is really Beige as a result of the August winds which have arrived a month early, and are stirring up the dust and the dry leaves and coating everything in a fine powdery layer of beige.

The weather seldom really gets to me, but the Beige days do, and when the wind is howling, the Beige days become dirty days too which makes them worse. Even the house is Beige – but then it is painted that colour – a Cemcrete coating aptly named ” Winter Grass” – What were we thinking???

And yet, if I open my eyes and look around, even when the world is at it’s most beige, suddenly pops of beautiful colour begin to emerge. Few and far between though they might be, but they are there – the seeds of the red Bushwillow, the dried pods of the Purple fruited Clusterleaf, and the occasional splash of Autumn foliage of one of the many trees whose names I have not learned. It is in the small spots of colour that I find a richness of orchre, and deep red and yellow with the occasional splash of Green to indicate that there is still life in this Beige world of July in the bushveld.

…..for a beautiful Winter landscape shawl in pure New Zealand wool!