Sunday, November 8, 2015

Clean up has begun

OK I'm untidy.  Always have been and can't see it changing any time soon.  But it had got to an untenable state so I had to make a start.

While decluttering the bookcase I found a quote by Mirka Mora I'd written out.
"I think clutter is the thread of my memory to have its own continuity through familiar objects."  Hmmm!
I needed to get the warping reel out to wind more warps and new I couldn't do that if the floor was covered in boxes so this afternoon I pulled all the banana boxes of "stuff" into the centre of the studio and, so far 8 have become 4 with a lot of throwing out.  Just as well as there are more in the passage way.
And we won't mention the guest bed (or the bath) yet!  Have a guest staying next week so better get on with it.

Tea towels

 Before the trip I threaded my loom with a cotton warp in 2:1 block twill for tea towels to be stock for the Cargo Shed Fibre Gallery.  I so enjoyed being back at the loom weaving these. 
Even tied another warp on and wove it off
then I put all 8 towels in the tub to soak and

And they were so pretty.
I think I've rescued 2 olive ones.
I tried laundry detergent, Friend, Orvis soap.  
If I'd wanted to dye them the colour wouldn't have taken!

Anyone got any suggestions before I iron them and put them in my cupboard.

Not to be beaten I put another warp on. 
Do you recognise these colours Lynette?  
Its taken a while for them to speak to me!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pitigliano, Bagnioreggio, San Quirico d'Orca, Chiusi, Ostia Lido and Home

Having picked the vehicle up in Chiusi we actually did pretty well with the hire car, we stuck to the back roads, avoided the A1 motorway and it was my job to navigate and keep to the correct side of the road.  Only one incident where we found the right road sign but it had the arrow going to the wrong direction, bit of a panic and all sorts of things going wrong but no one was hurt and the car not dented!
First stop Pitigliano yet another old hill town with very high walls.
We stayed in an apartment in Orsini Castle, albeit in the servants quarters, the museum is in the main part.

Below is the courtyard view from our kitchen windows.
Next two pics show the road approach to Pitigliano and the tight corners.  Some corners were so tight many vehicles had to have two goes to get around but everyone goes slow and is obliging.

We struck two wet days in this town so what to do?  Hot pool swim at Terme di Saturnia was in order.  These pools are on the side of a hill and formed by thermal water rich in calcium (I imagine much like the Pink and White Terraces of Rotorua used to be).
One night in Bagnioreggio, I thought because Pete wanted to take me to a particular restaurant for my birthday dinner; well yes but he also wanted to get on the restaurant roof to take night photos of Civeta, the hilltop town we visited at the start of the trip where the sides of the hill are falling away.  Turns out the ground had fallen away from under the restaurant and it was closed.  Our hosts suggested a super alternative in town and I pigged out on truffles, a delicacy of the area, so much so I couldn't cope with desert.  I nearly put this shuttle in my suitcase when we left next morning.

 Having our own wheels meant we could stop on the side of the road when and where we wanted.  Autumn was just peeping in with a little colour.

 Wild cyclamen. 

 And so we reached San Quirico d'Orca and our accommodation in the country.  You know you're in the right place when you're greeted by a skeiner at the office door.

Above and below are pics of the Abbieza Antimo.  While I waited and waited for the real photographer to get his shot I pledged to travel with a small project, maybe crochet or a spindle and sliver, in my shoulder bag next time for such occasions!
 I seem to have forgotten to use my camera from now on.  We did go to another hot spa while in this area and spent an afternoon in the pools.
After a week tripping around we returned the car to Chiusi.  It always surprised us that the towns ended at the city walls and then it was countryside - no merging of the two.
I felt I was starting the homeward journey from here.  From Chiusi we took a bus, 3 trains and another bus to Ostio Lido, our last stop in Italy but Pete couldn't resist so we spent the afternoon at Ostia Antica, ancient Rome's seaport founded around 620 BC.

I have to say it was a wonderful trip but so good to be back on New Zealand soil.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Florence, Corniglia, Lucca and Siena

More travel but if you're not interested don't read further.  There will be weaving soon.

Before leaving Padua for Florence Peter told me "This train will go like stink!"  I knitted all the way to Bolognia but we didn't go too fast as several stops but from Bolognia onwards we travelled mostly through tunnels (in Italy if there's a valley you build a bridge, if a hill you tunnel it) and I couldn't see very well so was watching a tv screen and saw 250kph, oh I thought, 260, 270, hmm this guys going for a record.  At 300kph I felt like I'd end up in Hobitville.

For forty years we've had a hand watercolour etching of the Ponte a Santa Trinita with Ponte Vecchio in the background over the Arno River in Florence on our lounge wall and now I've walked over both bridges (several times).
Ponte Vecchio
 Since the 13th century the Ponte Vecchio has had shops lining its sides.  It used to house all types of merchants including butchers, fishmongers and tanners causing a right old stink.  In 1593 Ferdinand I decreed that only goldsmiths and jewellers could trade and that is who is there today (no I wasn't tempted).

During World War 2 Vecchio was the only bridge in Florence over the Arno not destroyed by fleeing Germans. Instead they destroyed the buildings at both ends.
The Ponte a Santa Trinita was rebuilt using as much original stone as possible.
Ponte a Santa Trinita
 We spent a morning in the Museo di Palazzo Davanzati, a Renaissance style palace built in the 14th century.  One floor was almost entirely displaying very fine lace and embroidery.  This needle lace is 17th century - Reticello flounce.

 I think if you enlarge this you will be able to read it.
The kitchen was very large but I imagine there would have been a huge work table and other things to fill it.  In the distance, under the window, is a weaving loom.
The warping board was attached to the wall but displayed pretty high up to be used conveniently so suspect this wouldn't have been its original home.
 Now look at this 16th century loom.  I imagine the weaver would straddle the upright to work the pedals?
The beater and weaving are at the upright end of the loom and the fabric goes down through the slot so one isn't leaning on it.  Doesn't seem to be very comfortable to use but a very nicely built loom with pawl and ratchet and decorated parts.
Or has it been put together with the castle facing the wrong way?

 And this generation thinks they invented platform shoes! 

 At the Palazzo Vecchio I couldn't resist recording this ceiling painting of Penelope at the loom.
The poet Homer tells us in the Odysey that during the long voyage of Penelope's husband Ulysses, King of Ithaca, the queen managed to avoid remarrying by postponing her choice of suitor until she had finished a piece of cloth which she wove during the day and unravelled at night.

 Then it was back on another train to the Chinque Terre coast, five villages with what should be walking trails between each.  Unfortunately the trails between the first two villages had been damaged by slips but we were staying at the third village Corniglia.
One morning I pulled the curtains to see a guy shifting crates of grapes downstairs to a small room beside our apartment.  I investigated further to find it was a winery with grapes being processed by a  press and one guy stamping the grapes in another vat.  It was so hot I can tell you it was more than grape juice going into that wine!
Walking the trail to village 4, Vernazza, looking back to Corniglia and Manarola.

Porto Venere down the coast from Chinque Terre

On the move again heading towards Lucca with a day visit to Pisa.
I never realised before that the leaning tower was actually the bell tower for the cathedral.

 Lucca was gloriously flat.  So easy to walk around and somehow the authorities are able to keep the illegal immigrants out which made it so much pleasanter.  I make no bones about it, these people target tourists and make travel so unpleasant.
There are several weaving workshops in Lucca including Tommasi Loom Works.  To quote the catalogue:  Silk, linen, hemp, nettle and natural fibers colored with vegetable dyes and hand spun yarns and blended with the contemporary: lurex, metallic threads, creating exclusive collections...  I did enjoy my visit here, too busy looking and soaking up the fibre for pictures.
Solidly built loom, heavy beater.
Siena is the opposite of Lucca in that it is VERY hilly; even the so called flat streets on the ridges of the hills are still not level.  By this time we had been on the move for five weeks and I was pretty fit.
 Spent quite a while outside the Cathedral waiting for a bride to arrive and the wedding party to enter.
Next day we walked outside the city walls and returned to our apartment via a church we wanted to see.  "We can't go in there, its a funeral" I said.

The centre of Siena is the Piazza del Campo, a fan shaped oval sloping down to a central point.  I think I'm right in saying once a year the contrade hold horse races around the Piazza.  We spent several hours in the Piazza in the small hours of one morning hoping to see the eclipse of the moon but unfortunately it was too cloudy.
I was fascinated by how these pigeons had adapted at the Fonte Gaia, a fountain on the top part of the Piazza del Campo.  
Pigeons quenching  their thirst at a statue of the fountain in Piazza del Campo
While in Siena I met Fioretta Bacci in her small but wonderful weaving laboratorio.  I love the way she blends her colours.
By now it was about seven weeks since I'd sat at my loom so probably looked a bit strange caressing Fiore's loom.  She was so busy with customers I think she would have employed me!

Next time, the moment all Italians should dread, the Dudfields hire a car.

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Well hello, yes we've been SKI-ing, that is Spending the Kids Inheritance.  We've been on an awesome adventure to Italy with most of our time spent in Tuscany.  Some years ago Pete and I had been to the library, I went out to the car and started looking through Nicki Epsteins book about yarn shops in Tuscany.  When Pete came out I showed him what I was looking through and he fosocked in his bag and pulled out Lonely Planet Guide to Tuscany and so a dream started.

We flew from Auckland to Kuala Lumpar to break the journey for a night.  This is a view from our hotel window to show the smoke from Indonesian fires.  We couldn't see anything past the multistory building and the collar of Peter's shirt - black.
From Rome airport we trained straight to Orvieto, a medieval hilltop town we had stayed in before and chilled out there for a few days.  Took a bus trip to Civita, another medieval castle town on top of a hill but the hill is slowly falling away taking the buildings with it.  There is no vehicle access except scooters and 4 wheel bikes to takes in supplies
 but around every corner is beautiful picture.
 You can see below how one building is occupied and looked after and the one on the left is unoccupied, plants growing out of the walls and in danger of collapse.
 Next stop was Montepulciano, yes, another medival town on a hill and we were there for the Wine Barrel Rolling Festival.  My pre-trip exercise program of walking up and down Bowentown Hill stood me in good stead here as there were a lot of steep streets.  The Festival included a parade of each contrada or family dressed in ancient costume walking the 1.8 kilometer track mostly uphill in about 30 degree C heat.  This couple have 3 or 4 layers of velvet on.
 No pictures of the barrel rolling, they were too fast for my little camera.  An 80 Kilo barrel, one guy rolling it from the back, second guy at the side also keeping it moving but also steering it, 1.8 k up hill around corners, some 270 degrees and so fastand so fit.  Our landlady was tickled pink that the last team came in after the ambulance but really just to finish was amazing.  And then the party began, pit roast, wine and singing.

We took a short bus trip to Prezia and I was delighted to meet Paola and Mattia in their weaving studio and they were working with NZ merino yarn.  The greasy fleece is sent to Italy where its spun and they were enjoying weaving with it.  I can't buy fine merino yarn in NZ!

Our next stop was Padua, mainly as a jump off point for Venice but also an interesting city in its own right.
Venice is unique, of course. 
The canals and buildings - so picturesque.

Grand Canal
Inside courtyard of Doge's Palace
The Bridge of Sighs.  The last view prisoners got of Venice
as they were led from the courts in the Palace to the prison.
And a last canal view before we move on to Florence.
Until next time ...