Something missing

Normally at this time of year, I would have spent the last few weekends searching the web or scouring some out-of-the-way, obscure shop for the perfect gift, then trying to find a silly or beautiful card to go with it, wrapping it all as neatly as I could and taking it into the Post Office on my way to or from work. There was never much in the way of hints or suggestions, so the onus was very much on me to find something that I thought would be appreciated. It was often a frustrating task but usually very rewarding, especially when I got the “thank you” phone call that proved I’d chosen well.

This year there has been none of that, and I’ve really missed it. I’ve missed berating him for being so difficult to chose presents for; I’ve missed moaning about the fact that the usual fall-backs for Dad-presents were no good – no aftershave (he had a beard), no other toiletries (he only ever used Imperial Leather soap and a soupçon of Brylcreem), no socks (unless they were  dark green), no ties (he had a whole rack full), no CDs (he had no ear for music), no expensive single malt (he seldom drank), no classic movie DVDs (he just wasn’t interested) and so on.

But most of all, I miss Dad.

Happy Birthday Dad xxx

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Stanley James “Jim” Pollock 10.11.23 – 27.09.15

A much loved husband, father and grandpa.

Dad was the youngest of four sons born to George and Eveline Pollock; Robert was the eldest, followed by George and John. Sadly George died as an infant and John died at 21, gradually becoming paralysed after suffering from what we believe was encephalitis. Despite this, Dad looked back on his childhood as a happy time and often spoke of the adventures he got up to with his school mates.

G & E Pollock & sons

Dad was always interested in wheeled transport, as this early picture shows. Throughout his life he owned and rode many motorbikes and travelled all around Europe on them.

Dad's first set of wheels

Dad’s first set of wheels

In 1957, he met Doreen, my Mum, brought together by a mutual liking for crosswords. I was often amazed how easily he could find the right answer to obscure and tortuous clues and used to tease him that it was because he had a twisted and devious mind. This picture was taken on 23rd August 1958, their wedding day.J & D Pollock

Dad left school as soon as he was able to, at 16, but never stopped learning. He was one of the most knowledgeable people I ever met and happily shared that knowledge with my brother and me. Kids today have Wikipedia and Google to help with their homework, we had Dad! He explained maths and physics to me far better than my teachers ever could, but had to admit defeat when it came to music. I don’t remember what he was talking about in this picture but it was probably something to do with engineering. His vast memory banks full of all kinds of facts made him a tough opponent during games of our family favourite: Trivial Pursuit; most of the answers he gave to the Geography questions would be followed with “We’ve been there” – a reflection of the life-long of travel that he and Mum shared. The only continent he hadn’t visited was Antarctica.

Dad in full flow

Dad in full flow

This next picture was taken on board a cruise-ship, somewhere in the Baltic or North Sea as they celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary in typical fashion – travelling. During their retirement Mum and Dad went on many cruises, the last one being in 2011 when Dad was 87. He would often complain that the cruise ships, although very comfortable, were “full of old people”, conveniently forgetting that he fitted right into that same category.036 Golden Wedding

The last few years had seen Dad struggling to get around due to problems with his knees, which he believed were caused by all those years of riding motorbikes in all weathers with little or no protection from the cold. I remember him getting home from work in the winter with icicles in his beard. Despite these difficulties, he continued to enjoy life and liked nothing more than to have visits from his granddaughters and chat away about any subject under the sun. He was always a good listener and would offer advice in a gentle way, never judging or belittling.

Dad was a master of understatement and restraint so on the rare occasions that he gave compliments, they were definitely worth having – a quiet “hmmm, very good” from Dad meant so much more than flowery, overblown phrases from others because you knew he really meant it.

Four weeks ago, Dad had funny turn at home and was taken to hospital. It was thought that he had a urinary infection and was kept in overnight for further observations. The following morning, when I phoned to find out whether he would be able to come home that day, as we’d been told, the nurse explained that he had been “quite poorly” overnight and had apparently developed pneumonia. Two days later, we were told that the consultant had decided against any further active treatment as the trauma would be too much for him, so palliative care was started. On Sunday 27th September, surrounded by his family and an enormous amount of love, he slipped peacefully away.

We are all devastated and my lovely Dad has left a huge hole in our lives that no-one will ever be able to fill.

Dad’s funeral took place last Friday and the whole family was greatly touched by the number of his old friends and work colleagues, some of whom he had not seen for over 50 years, who turned out to pay their last respects. He was a kind, caring gentle man of quiet dignity, who made a deep impact on those he knew and he will be greatly missed.

We do not get to choose our Dads, but if we did, I'd choose you. You're one in a million Dad.

We do not get to choose our Dads, but if we did, I’d choose you. You’re one in a million Dad.

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End of an era

The blog is still here!! I expected to find that it had been deleted due to  lack of action, but apart from having to reset my password, bloggus intactus!

Why “End of an Era”? Well, not because I’ve decided to retire from blogging (although I may well do that, undecided at present) but because I have a big life-change coming up…early next month, I will be saying goodbye to Sussex, my home for the last 28 years, and returning to my roots in Leicester. It’s a big change and not one I’m undertaking lightly, but the time is right, so off I go!

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Book review

On Friday I went to the “Made by Hand” exhibition at Lewes Town Hall – the biennial show of the East Sussex Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. It’s always a good show and the quality and inventiveness of the work on display is always a great inspiration, but this year I think it was even better. A couple of reasons for this: a) the catering was particularly good and very good value, and b) there seemed to be a greater variety of work on show.
I bought some weaving yarn and a couple of bundles of spinning fibre, but my top purchase of the day was this book:

The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs by Sarah Anderson

It is a particularly well-thought out book; the layout is extremely clear, with details on how to make 80 different yarns, but each set of detailed instructions is accompanied by a couple of boxes that give the pertinent details in pictorial and “quick-note” form. These pictures and quick notes are also included as a set of separate cards in a folder at the back of the book, so you can keep the individual guide handy whilst spinning without trying to peer at a precariously balanced book. The pictures in the book are very clear and show all the yarns in natural sheep/alpaca/goat colour so the  construction of the yarn is easily visible without the distraction of beautifully hand-dyed fibres. There are some full-colour pictures which suggest how the use of colour in your fibre can add to the look of the finished yarn, but the construction  and technical details of the yarn  take centre-stage.
The book is also enhanced (in my view) by the gentle humour and little anecdotes that run through it – for a particularly tricky technique, the author suggests that, as well as making sure your hands and feet are co-ordinated,  it may be helpful to stick out your tongue a little way! This really made me chuckle as I had visions of spinners up and down the country getting ready to make a fabulous yarn: “leader – check; direction of spin – check; correct tension – check; right hand angle – check; tongue out – check; aaaand spin!”

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Catching up

-Well, hello again!

Not sure I’ll be able to catch up with everything that’s happened over the last few months, but I’ll give it a go…

About a month before Christmas, I turned *gulp* 50. Not quite sure how that happened, as I’d swear it’s only a couple of years since I left home, but my birth certificate doesn’t lie. Anyway, various members of my family got together and paid for me to attend a residential craft course of my choosing – a lovely idea for a present. The course I chose was “Machine Embroidery”, offered by Anglia Leisure Learning and tutored by Annette Morgan.

The venue was very good, food was plentiful (too plentiful, really, my jeans got very tight) and tasty and the organisation was excellent. The class was very small (just two students) and Annette was a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. We started off making paper collages, which were then scanned and printed onto heat transfer paper, transferred onto fabric and then stitched, cut, bondawebbed and generally fiddled around with. There were mistakes, obviously, but these led on to new discoveries – accidentally ironing gold transfer foil all over my fabric, instead of just a few selected areas allowed me to discover a) how difficult transfer foils is to remove and b) what an interesting effect is produced by scratching the surface of said foil with the side of a scissor blade.

I spent a very happy two-and-a-half days up to my elbows in vilene, threads, bondaweb, fuse fx, calico, heat transfer paper, paint, glue and fabric. At the end of it all, I had produced this:

Birling Gap at low tide. Printed fabric (heat transfer paper), machine embroidery

Birling Gap at low tide. Printed fabric (heat transfer paper), machine embroidery

It has now been mounted on an artist’s canvas, which I covered in some lovely textured hand-made paper, and hung on the wall.

Since coming home, I have had another go using similar techniques and produced this one, too:

Boats Printed fabric, heat transfer paper, solufleece, machine embroidery, transfer foils

Boats
Printed fabric, heat transfer paper, solufleece, machine embroidery, transfer foils

I haven’t decided yet how to frame/mount this one so it’s just languishing in a corner at the moment, but I hope to finish it off very soon.

 

Knitting has taken quite a back seat lately – there are lots of projects in my queue on Ravelry, but I just don’t seem to have any inclination to start anything. The current WIP is a pair of gloves – rather lovely gloves, actually – but they’ve been half-finished for months now and I’m not even sure where they are!

have finished a weaving project – a silk twill scarf for my lovely sister-in-law – but rather stupidly, I don’t seem to have a photo of it. It was quite a challenge to make, as twill is much easier to do on loom with multiple harnesses rather than the rigid-heddle loom that I have, but I got there in the end. I didn’t swear much, either. Well, not that much…

 

Since the weather finally seems to have got over itself and become a bit more seasonal, Bethany and I have made the most of it in our usual fashion:

Pimm's, lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, strawberries

Pimm’s, lemonade, ice, mint, cucumber, strawberries

Speaking of which: it’s Pimms o’clock!

Till next time…

 

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Miss Mitten La Moufle

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Best picture so far; she was sitting on the arm of the sofa, staring distantly out of the window, thinking of who knows what?

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Merry Christmas

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Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, I hope you have a wonderful time! Peace and love to all Annie xx

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