Tagged: Cotswolds

Jul 29

Scrap of the week #30

 

I’m cheating here as this isn’t a scrap of fabric, as such. But it could be. One day.

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Raw fleece after a couple of washes

 

There’s an #onlyinBath hashtag on Twitter. It usually describes the quaint and curious things which could only occur in this rarified, picturesque location. And the subject of this post qualifies. Because there can be few cities where sheep are still grazed within spitting distance of the most splendid stone crescents (I know at least two such locations within the city). And possibly even fewer where the owners of said sheep can’t find takers for the resulting fleeces, even when giving them away. We live in a crazy mixed-up world, folks!

The prospect of a shedload of free Bath fleeces proved too much of a lure for me this week. My gain is yours, however, because I’m giving most of them away, in turn, to the first people who come forward.

These fleeces were sheared from their sheep at the end of June. Some are black (-ish), some white (-ish). They are raw, so you’ll have to clean them up, which is messy and requires a washing space the size of a bathtub (in fact, a bathtub will do nicely) and an alarming quantity of washing-up liquid. But I think it’ll probably be worth it, especially if you want to try your hand at spinning. I’m aiming to create the most wonderful natural stuffing imaginable. That’s the plan, anyway. So far I’ve washed a small portion (see image above) to get a feel for it. My hands are lovely and soft from the lanolin, but the fleece is still full of foreign bodies – mostly of vegetable origin, but some of sheep origin, if you get my drift. It’s obviously a long game.

Sheep and their wool have a long history in this city, of course. From the 13th century, Bath was renowned for its fine woollen cloth, and wool wealth built the early city. You can find out more about this history at the Museum of Bath at Work. Here is one of their displays.

 

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Wool display at the Museum of Bath at Work

 

The Museum of Bath at Work also kindly hosts the Big Mend, a free monthly mending social which you’ve probably heard me mention before. If you live in/near Bath and ever find yourself with more holes in your favourite garments than you know how to handle, bring them along on the last Wednesday of the month, 7-9pm, and we can help you sort them out. The next meet-up is this Wednesday 31st July. This is the room we work in. It’s light and spacious. Do join us!

 

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The mezzanine level at the Museum of Bath at Work

And if you’re interested in a FREE raw fleece, do leave a comment below or email me. I can’t mail it, so am requesting only local takers, please. First come, first served.

 

 

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Feb 01

Hope

It’s been a long wait for snowdrops this year. I finally saw great clumps of them on my drive out to the Cotswolds today, but they’re still tightly furled in their pendulous buds, which is unusually immature for the start of February. In my recollection, they tend to be wide open by today, sometimes blooming as early as late December. But it’s been a hard winter, and spring has been an especially long time coming.

Snowdrops were brought to Britain by monks in the fifteenth century, or so the story goes. They are certainly found frequently in monastery gardens, apparently planted to celebrate today: Candlemas Day in the old Church calendar, a.k.a. the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary. This gave rise to such folkloric names such as ‘Candlemas Bells’ and ‘February Fair-maids’.

The Latin for snowdrop comes from the Greek galanthus meaning ‘milkflower’ and nivalis meaning ‘snowy’. Testament that this brave little flower has to push its way up through the snow comes from the French name: perce-neige: ‘snow-piercer’, or (as I’ve seen elsewhere less charmingly) ‘snow-driller’.

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Snowdrops in my lawn at home

Of course, my personal favourite version of the name must really be the Welsh: eirlys, a blend of eira meaning ‘snow’ and lys meaning ‘lily’. It always struck me, growing up with such a poetic Welsh name, that the English translation just didn’t quite match what the bardic residents the other side of Offa’s Dyke came up with.

So, I guess I’m not the only one eagerly awaiting the emphatic arrival of this year’s snowdrops. Wordsworth called them (in the singular, as sighting just one is surely enough reason for celebration) ‘venturous harbinger of Spring’. And Christina Rosetti wrote: ‘…Brother, joy to you!/I’ve brought some snowdrops; only just a few,/Cheerful and hopeful in the frosty dew/And for the pale sun’s sake.’ I’ve had an arduous couple of weeks, after a curious turn of events in my private life, but am currently gaining shedloads of sustenance from the optimism inherent in my name. For snowdrop, in the language of flowers, is quite simply ‘Hope’.

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