Tuesday, 30 November 2010

it's cold outside

so I'm thinking about knitting.  Of course I'm getting ahead of myself as I am still knitting my socks but they are almost ready for the grand tadah!  and I can start dreaming about my next project, which will be from this lovely book

I have already knitted a few pairs of wrist warmers and one pair of fairisle gloves from here but now my daughter has asked for something a little more complex, isn't that what daughters are for (and sons for that matter)?

fingerless gloves with little hats for the tips of your fingers when it gets really cold

the only problem is that I would like to make these with all that lovely cable and those bobbles

and I only have one ball of luscious wool from Loop.  I was quite worried about this when it occurred to me that I could order another ball!!!  and then we can both have our luscious gloves.  Am I being ambitious?

Is this really likely to stay long enough for me to finish my socks and knit two pairs of complicated gloves?  Oh well, mine will fit next year I suppose

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

winter beaching

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The last master of the Biram

Oh I wish I'd taken a camera.  It's always the way, it didn't even occur to me!  Last night we went to Mount Pleasant Ecological Park to see Mamane Barka play the Biram, the last instrument of it's kind.  If I'm honest I didn't really know what we were going to see, there were free tickets for the children and we just booked it.  But it feels as though we spent an evening in Niger.  Barka spent as much time talking about Niger and the stories around the Biram as he did playing and it was wonderful.

It is a five stringed instrument that is shaped a bit like a boat and comes from a fishing community on lake Chad.  It was played whenever there was sickness or other bad things happening in the village to call for protection from the spirit of the lake.  Barka (who is from a nomadic tribe in the North of Niger) came upon the instrument when he was researching the instruments of his country.  The old man who had the Biram had not played it for fifteen years because the villagers had become (in his words) 'modern' and no longer needed him to play.  As a result there was no-one to take over and when he died that would be the end of the Biram.  Barka was so moved by this that he spent four years finding funding to go and learn from the Biram master.  The old master has died now leaving Barka as the last master of the Biram. 

Barka is touring Europe to talk about the instrument but also to talk about the incredibly rich cultural history of Niger.  He is a fantastic speaker and we all loved it.  We came away wanting to visit Niger and the museum of musical instruments that he and his drummer work for.

His drummer Omar was incredible too, he is a griot which wikipedia describes as a 'repository of oral tradition'.  He played two drums, the douma or talking drum and the calabash below

He played the calabash using his hands and his foot to get different sounds.  While Mamane is an excellent talker and his instrument is interesting because of its history Omar's drumming was just amazing.  I feel as though the children (and us adults) learned so much in those few hours.  Stories of spirits and old ways of living were brought to life.  We all want to go to Niger although he didn't talk about any unrest there.  Failing that perhaps WOMAD next year.

One final thing he told us was that the village where the instrument is from has a market full of fish and the fishermen are not allowed to take money for fish so the people in the village will never go hungry.  Sadly the village he described is a dying way of life.  One where everything is natural and they fish and farm their own food, selling fish outside the village when they need money.  Barka and Omar live in the capital city and do not live such a natural life.  The master of the Biram used to be fed, housed and clothed by the rest of the community because his value was recognised.  The idea of not charging for food in your own community seemed so moral, a community where everyone has their role to play and everyone gets fed. 

Friday, 19 November 2010

long time no blog and folksy friday/November sparks

I have been a bad blogger recently.  I may have underestimated just how much time essay writing really takes.  But I have sent my second one in now so a little break and a little blog.  Some gorgeous dark choices from some of the November Sparks
just click on the images to be taken to the lovely shops

Gaia Noir
Just K Jewellery and gifts
Gifts Shack
Gew Gaws
Northfield Primitives
Diomo Glass


Tuesday, 16 November 2010

stuff we're enjoying right now

I have been very slack with my blog recently.  My laptop is utterly unreliable at the moment and I may have underestimated the ammount of work needed for a level three literature course!  But I'm starting to organize my time a little better and all of a sudden I find I have a few minutes spare to share some home ed stuff.

I wrote about the scientist cd in this series a while ago, we are still listening to that one.  We are often distracted, and rarely do anything in any kind of order.  I like to think that this leads to interesting connections in our learning!  Anyway we love this explorers cd just as much as the scientists one.  It's great for those mornings when we all just want to curl up on the sofa, I can feel as though we're learning while we're lazing.

Annis is obsessed with fashion, she absolutely wants to be a fashion designer.  We saw this great book on fashion illustrating by Bethan Morris in the Tate St Ives at the weekend.  Unfortunately it was about £7 more in the Tate than it is on Amazon so we will be ordering it for christmas.

Back to essay writing and sewing after this brief interval.

Monday, 8 November 2010

starting to think about christmas shopping with November Sparks

Well, this year I'm going to be organized.  I've already done a lovely swap with Anicca (she has a folksy shop too) for some gorgeous earrings for J's mum  Now it's time to start thinking about everyone else.  The only problem is that when I go through folksy I keep seeing things that I would definitely like to keep all to myself!

for example this beautiful locket from Mia Scintilla

and then there's this beautiful charm bracelet from whimsical wren

the wizard of oz is our halloween film.  My partner finds the witch very disturbing, along with the childcatcher in chitty chitty bang bang.  But he'll happily watch halloween!  And I've just always wanted red shoes, and the shoes on this charm bracelet are perfect.

I also love this scenic jasper pendant from Unique beaded gems .  It really does look like a landscape, just beautiful

and there's this gorgeous rasberry beret (yes it is a reference to the Prince song) from NOfkants curios

and it even has matching fingerless gloves to go with it.

Oh I suppose I'll have to go and start thinking about other people's christmas presents now.  There are just too many boys in my family!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Athena book club

Now my children would have called it 'Penzance book club' or 'home ed book club' but there was some lateral thinking at the first meeting of this children's book club set up by our very efficient and lovely friend Jojo. 'Is there a god of books' said one bright spark, to which another replied 'Athena is the goddess of wisdom' and so their book group was named, 'The Athena Book Club'. I especially like the fact that Athena is a she and the book club is all boys apart from Annis.


The first book was a difficult choice because at least one of the children had already read whatever was suggested but in the end they all wanted to read Teague's suggestion of Stormbreaker, a spy book.  But Teague has already read it so he is starting the second book choice

Eragon, which sounds like fun.  They decided most things between themselves and it was a joy to see a group of boys getting excited about books or at least being in a club.  Teague managed to drag one of his book shy friends along and the library have asked if they will hold occasional meetings in the library.  I think this is a fantastic idea, they were very supportive and have offered to get hold of extra copies of their book choices so we don't have to buy the books.

We do love books in this house.  Books form the basis of our home education, and as long as they are reading or being read to I feel happy that they are learning.  So I am so so pleased that they all enjoyed the book club, in fact they were so keen they want to meet up in two weeks rather than the usual month.  Better get them reading!

November sparks days 1 to 3

Yes! I am back to daily listing and this time I am determined to see it through to the bitter end.  But there has been some lovely stuff already on the Folksy November sparks listing thread and here is a taste of it.

Oh I love love love this baby elephant, he is just gorgeous and looks as though he needs a home!  He's (I've made a bit of a gender assumption here!) from Northfield Primitives and I'm so happy to see Sarah's shop filling up again in time for thinking about christmas

I have a bit of a thing for hairslides, I have done some lovely swaps on folksy for them.  I have actually just had all my hair cut off so I'm not sure where to put them but I still love them.  These pretties are from Miss Bohemia and there are other gorgeous gothicky (is that a word?) purple and silvery bits and pieces.

Love this chicken, even if it does seem a little cruel to stick pins in him!  He's from swirly arts and has a fair few bigger friends to hold your doors open.

pants and paper is already on my christmas list, I love the old photographs and the flowery fabric and the lace...  Annis knows what I want but I might have to supervise the order!

Monday, 1 November 2010

happy hallowe'en

Hallowe'en was a rush this year (in the sense of being hurried).  What with bugs and homework and essays and sewing and all the rest!  So here are the only two pics we managed to take (a little fuzzy!)

the crafting!  There were bat biscuits made for trick or treaters too but no photo.

and an evil princess, I couldn't catch the boy in his faceless hoodie costume.  Lots of goodies were collected and a lot of fun was had.  Then after they went to bed we watched Urban Ghost Story which was a really good film about social issues but not very scary and then listened to 'The turn of the screw' by Henry James, on the iplayer.  Definitely scary!  To be listened to in the dark, maybe not on your own though!