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Literacy....A Right.......(or why I went teaching).

I want to talk about literacy especially numeracy and text literacy for children.

I needed a context to put it in so the photograph above was sampled as an example of development in an impoverished area -Cornwall in late 19th Century. This photogenic girl will have practised her numeracy by counting her stitches. I would be making a judgement on her reading ability, but I doubt that a huge amount of time and effort would have been made by the relevant authorities to ensure that she could read with confidence. I did study history.
Our young girl would have had very basic literacy.
Then we move on to the Post-War time in Western Nations where after 1946 huge efforts were made to see to the general health and well-being of its citizens. Education was now mandatory for girls and boys. Anyone who has watched "Call The Midwife" BBC will have got this message and its background clearly in their understanding.
Here in New Zealand we adopted the same policies with a big emphasis on early…

I Should Have Listened...........

There comes a time when you make a decision and making it makes you feel loads better.

For me, writing up my Work Diary forced me to re-read my entry from the previous week about the second-hand knitting machine I had sourced locally.
I had given up then on it and it had been stored at the very back of the shed behind the old spinning wheel....that means it was just too heavy to store up in the rafters.
I had been warned, but did I listen?....did I heck as like.
Thought I could manage it....thought I could conquer it. Thought I could "whip-up" squares of hand-spun and then edge them by hand all nice and evenly.....thought I had a new product for a new market. What a total eejit!
I had been warned.
"Best of luck" a neighbour said, "one wrong move and it gets ruined..."
"Rather you than me", said another, "....never got the hang of them myself."
I really did try to like it.

I gave it new needles and a new sponge bar.
I cleaned and cleaned it.
I rea…

Letter to Santa 2017

Dear Santa,

How are things with you?
Hope the reindeer are eating well.
It has been a whole 12 months since we last talked and let's face it, it has been a s*** of a year. I am not blaming you but I really need a positive gesture to help with the New Year.
It was on the whole a "One Step Forward-One Step Back" experience all year. Determination to enter Exhibitions thwarted by derailment,on-going Family Dramas, illness (not mine), a Convent Restoration in Ireland to which I have links abandoned by ineptitude and nastiness, and then the whole culture of thoughtlessness in America, and Britain.
I was happy to hide in the Shed and just spin wool.
Which I started doing again last week.
Santa, I know you are a bloke and might have to ask around on this, but why do women always carry the burden of emotional responsibility within families? ...and is it fair?
You see, in order for a woman to be able to create a clear artistic path they have to be free of responsibilities and demands....…

Weaving a Sleeping Pod for a Baby -Wahakura

I did the scary big thing -I attended a Maori Womens' Weaving Course.

I am not Maori.
But they let me in.

They did have some questions, such as what is your general experience with Te Ao Maori (Maori culture) and do you have a tribal connection?

I passed the first part being a curious soul and an employee of the Ministry of Education (a teacher). Teachers in NZ are expected to know basic phrases and to be able to pronounce children's names and place-names with ease. My tribal connection is Irish, and in the wonderful understanding of Maori that was considered good enough.

There is a huge understanding between Irish and Maori. Both were marginalised by invaders -both understand about family-strength and both laugh and sing a lot.


Flax in NZ is mostly wild and coarse. it grows freely around wetlands and is known as useful landscaping vegetation as it soaks up water from marginal land. The flax here was used for rope-making. It has none of the finesse of Irish linen and cannot be spun …

Pricing Your Work

Pricing Your Work and Meeting The Market.

I want to talk about putting a price on work ready for sale.

We all consider doing this -large projects or small, hand-dyed yarn or finished shawls. It is a fraught process and the big word needed is TRUST.

-Trust in the product.
-Trust in the venue or platform.
-Trust in your worth.

The buyer has to trust you, the maker, completely as well.

This last line becomes vital when making a "one-off" piece because there is nothing to compare it with. Skeins of wool on an on-line platform can be viewed and considered at the click of a mouse or at the squeeze of a hand at a trade show. 

I'd like to think that this is the where that imaginary line between craft and art intersect because a shawl with an original design and a story behind it is where the maker and the buyer meet. The buyer feels they are buying a little of you -the maker because it is bound up in the work.

Buying a little of the maker's soul is well known to artists. It's und…

Times When I Have Been Angry.....or..is it worth it?

This is a writing exercise......

ME: You just won't effing believe what I went through today...

HIM : So...how was your day? How did the "Moving House for Dorothy" go?          Uh oh -I know that look.         (Moves valuable items away from my reach)
ME : I have just one thing to say...effing blokes ! HIM : OK.....(takes a deep breath) Want a wine?  ME  : Want? -more like need. HIM : What blokes? Blokes in general or just today's blokes? ME: No not all blokes, not nice ones like you, just the Tosser-Type blokes who are                    married to absolute effing saints like Dorothy. God what she has had to put up with          all these years! HIM : (Places wine glass carefully into her hand wrapping her fingers around it to stop her           gesticulating her anger) ME: Do you know what....? No I'll start from the top. So I arrive nice and early to help              clean and Jill and I stand there looking at the four.....FOUR.....sheds still full of        his mechanic…

Planning a Big Project -aka Writing a List

My Big Project

...is now complete.

For a day I wasn't quite myself because the there was no compulsion to knit.

It was ended and the studio was needing a tidy-up. The 1.73m square shawl was up on the frame in the shed being stretched to its limits and my hands were obsessively tidying, labelling wool samples and photographing the Opus.

I spring-cleaned the house....washing china;


Within a week I was back in the shed with fleece in my hands planning again....spinning is the greatest "resolver" of nerves.

The point of finishing a big project with some sanity (I had not lost my mind....maybe my patience a bit) is to be organised; This is why SO many Works In Process become Works in Decommission. 

Advice to me when 8yrs old was "Never start a project until you have finished the one in front of you" and I was scared enough to remember it and follow it.

I have to be clear here -I will never start a project unless I have complete and total control over it's process. Sound…