A week of Numbers…

I fell off the wagon somewhat with all my counting between last Tuesday and today. The start of the problem was the 4 pints of Guinness that I drank last Wednesday before realising each one was a whopping 3 points, and before doing my bar-tab sums. This may explain the 1 lb gain I experienced at my last weigh-in, but this week I am down to my last few £s and eating well is not as relevant right now as just eating. Thus my fridge isn’t stocked with little tomatoes, tasty 0-points snacks or anything that can save me, actually, from the dreaded calories of CHEAP TUCK! So my numbers are currently in some disarray, and last night I made a cheap (in £s) but expensive (in points) sausage casserole which cost me 10.5 points but which was amazingly delicious. As Mark and I tipped a litre of our homemade cider into the pot on top of sausages frozen and kept over from the famed Sausage and Cider party, I realised I haven’t really written about the cider as we have steadily drunk our way through it all, after making it last Autumn. There isn’t much I can write about it here without our notes, but we have learned a lot about cider, sweetness, the time it takes to make good cider and how to develop a good sparkle. I am very proud to report that the best cider we made – sampled by relatives at Christmas, friends at the sausages and cider party and reviewed via our own considered cider sessions – was made from the cookers that grow on Mark’s gnarly old apple tree. Long-term readers will remember that I paid homage to this tree and its lustrous green fruits, in knitting. You can see the leaves of the actual tree around my homage:

…and here are the lovely fresh fruits before we pressed them last Autumn.

Our finest cider was a sparkling cider made from these very apples, and we knew it would be amazing from the moment was started to ferment the juice in the kitchen. It was clear, light, full of life and bubbly right from the start so we shall try to recreate this again this year. To make sparkling cider, we added some sugar solution and bottled the cider right away, so that it would be live and fermenting and thus, sparkling.

However I would like to add that though the sparkling cider was delicious, I had a particular fondness for the still dry cider that we made. Although it was quite sour, it had a zen quality about it that I enjoyed; it was like drinking the nature, the essence, the very soul of apples, being made only from apple juice, a little brewer’s yeast and time. I was thinking of the slightly woody, earthen taste of this cider when I went to the Oxford Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers last Saturday, to begin work with a totally unprocessed Cotswold Sheep Fleece. I do like things that are raw, that come with the land still clinging to them and which taste or smell of the ground.

The Cotswold Fleece belongs to the fantasy I described at the end of the last season of The Hub of working with wool from a local animal, and realising my dream involves time and patience and much assistance from those talented people over at the Guild. The very patient Carol Thorpe gave me plenty of help and advice on how to sort the different areas of the fleece according to touch, and made me sit in the middle of it and close my eyes in order to feel my way around the different grades of fibre contained within the fleece. We then washed some of the fleece and combed it, and then I made some lumpy handspun to get a feeling for the wheel again and to experiment with my small samples of different kinds of fibres.

I really enjoyed this process and found the Cotswold sheep to have very long, lustrous fibres. They are similar to Wensleydale in terms of length and sheen, but they are much thicker and not as soft. I enjoyed the feeling of spinning it; of the long fibres feeding into the twist in my hands and the sense of strength and distance in the wool. I combed the fibres first to make them all lie straight. This results in a worsted-spun yarn, where the fibres all lie in one direction and this is I think how I want to process the longer, coarser parts of the fleece. There are some softer areas where the fibres are bouncier which I may spin in the woollen way but for now – on Carol’s advice – I am going to concentrate on grading the fleece and washing and combing it in 4oz batches.

In other news, I had the beautiful experience last week of seeing the Opera Satyagraha, and attending an amazing workshop by Improbable Theatre Co. who worked on the show. Fortuitously, a focus on Ghandi’s life was also present at PYF’s LOUDER THAN BOMBS exhibition, and so I found myself feeling very inspired for a lot of last week about the places where creativity, spinning, generosity and political freedom meet. Rachael has written about Ghandi before, and I remember her posting about the Charkha that he made for spinning cotton, but I can’t find it now. There is a lot of information on that topic here, and the repetitive, cyclical nature of Philip Glass’s music for Satyagraha is now all mixed up in my mind with the ideas of Situationists, the political power of spinning your own yarns, and the stunning newspaper puppetry that I saw at the Opera. Newspaper, wool, art, politics, spinning, cycles and creativity… a good mashup. I quite understand why Rachael felt compelled to make a tablecloth covered in the philosophies of Ghandi and the ideologies of the Situationists and I agree with her that drinking tea is the best time to contemplate these things.

So there is a lot to write about!

In knitting updates, I finished both reading The Sea Road and knitting my Icelandic unspun Bitterroot shawl, so there has been a lot of Viking-esque imagination/landscape/knitting joy about which I will write more when the shawl has been blocked and I can finally – and for the first time ever – complete my very own obligatory shawl pose, as exemplified by Lara with her finished Kiri Shawl here. (Sorry about that extremely long sentence.) Numbers will be reported in terms of numbers of charts followed, rows knitted and pages read.

In other news I have been very excited recently to hear so many great examples of Sonic Tuck on the blogosphere; I am going to collate a tour of online sonic tuck to put inside the Sonic Tuck Shop book, and amongst other examples I hope to be able to feature this popcorn recording over on the Binaural Diaries of Ollie Hall, these squeaky mushrooms over on the delectable SOUND AS ART blog and this cooking egg complete with (I think) smoke alarm going off at the end over at Joe Stevens.

Normal counting to resume soon.

One Response to A week of Numbers…

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Generosity and Numbers

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