We are moving towards the launch of our new audio trail for Romney Marsh central. We’ve added a link to our website to give a flavour of what to expect when listening to the audio. It will be stories from local people and some cultural reflections. We particularly want to celebrate E Nesbit who is buried at St Mary in the Marsh. For this reason, we are working with local primary schools asking children to respond to the Five Children and IT story. We are going to be displaying their work in our new Looker’s hut

This is our strong team of volunteers carefully manoeuvring the hut into the churchyard

This will be open to the public over the next couple of months in time for the celebration of Edith’s birthday in August. Sign up to our Facebook page for more info

We have been out recording stories and lives plus sounds from the landscape. Our skilled audio editor Diane has been *collaging* voices and sound together to make an exciting audio experience

https://artinromneymarshblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/52db7-ladylifeboatlaunchersclip.mp3

Click here for a sample of the work we are doing

The final outcome will be available to download in August 2019 and anyone can add it to their smart phone or MP3

Thanks to

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SaLT audio trail and new Looker’s hut

Easier said than done! Spinning natural sheep wool fleece into yarn is like patting your head with one hand while rubbing your tummy with the other hand.

We have spent the last two sessions at Lydd learning the basics of how to spin wool and had many laughs trying to get the hand, foot and eye coordination just right.

Half way through session two, we can all work the treadle to make the wheel spin, (most of us found it easier with a bare foot).

One would think, great, half way there now, so a good time to add the wool fleece.

Romney Sheep fleece has a long staple, (length), therefore very good to spin.

So your foot is working the treadle and your hands are positioned ready to feed the wool, as the first fibres begin to feed through onto the bobbin suddenly your attention is drawn to the repositioning of your hands and your coordination goes and your foot stops working the treadle. Time to start again…and again, as the saying goes, ‘if at first you don’t succeed try and try again’.

By the end of the second session we have improved, if only slightly, most of us can keep the wheel spinning and get some unevenly spun wool/yarn with knots, knobbly bits and thick sections, known as ‘slubs’, on a bobbin.

These days ‘slub yarn’ is quite fashionable and is purposely spun with slub sections to create a natural look. However, in this case, to achieve a more desirable slubbed natural look I feel a few less ‘intentional’ imperfections, would be perfect!

Therefore to conclude, practice makes perfect, more spinning next week!

Showing us how it’s done, making it look so easy.

Good news, I can’t tell you how pleased I am, I have seen a pair of swans with one cygnet, on two separate occasions, not far from the nest I have been visiting for the past few weeks.

From fleece to yarn…

We are now ready to move onto something new after spending a few weeks enjoying learning how to crochet. Time to get the spinning wheel out!

One last picture of our crocheted bags including one with a matching jacket.

Bagtastic!

With all the beautiful yellow blooms everywhere last week and the sweet, musky fragrant elderflowers in abundance in the hedgerows, it really felt like the beginning of summer and time to make elderflower cordial.

It’s very easy to make. Just be sure you know what you are picking!

To make approximately 1 litre of elderflower cordial you will need to gather about 15 elderflower heads. I like to have some with the tiny bids just opening and some fully opened flowers.

You will also need: 500g caster sugar, the zest from 2 unwaxed lemons, the juice from 1 of the lemons, approximately 4 tablespoons of runny honey

Cut the stalks with a pair of scissors and pop them in a bag or a basket and inspect them carefully, removing any bugs when you get home.

Once you have inspected the elderfower and removed any bugs and brown bits. You will need to:

Gently bring to the boil 1litre of water and add the sugar and honey and dissolve. Remove the pan from the heat.

Add the lemon zest, the elderflower and the juice from 1 lemon.

Slice the other lemon and place on top of the elderflower.

Make sure the elderflower and lemon slices are fully submerged.

Put the lid on the pan and leave to infuse for 24 hours or at least overnight.

Strain your homemade cordial using a sieve lined with kitchen towel or muslin, (if you have it).

Pour into sterilised bottles and seal with screw top lids, corks or swing top seals.

It really is that easy.

I’ve made enough to share with family members.

Dilute with ice cold water, lemonade or soda to drink. Also goes down well with wine or Prosecco.

Your elderflower cordial can also be frozen in plastic containers for later use.

The pair of swans who built this nest some weeks back now and were sitting on their eggs have now gone. This photo shows broken egg shell but I haven’t seen the parent swans for about a week. I was really hoping to see the signets once they had hatched but haven’t even had glimpse of them anywhere. I will keep looking.

All bagged up!

We have all had so much fun learning to crochet. Over the last few weeks we have made great progress and gained confidence. We have set ourselves challenges, followed patterns and created our own designs. Thank-you Jean for getting us started and thank-you Katherine for getting us hooked!

Fruit and vegetable bag

I have noticed lots of yellow beauties this last week while out walking with Fizz.

Also these brown and black beauties.

Mother and child

Mother and child

All photos taken on The Romney Marsh.

It’s all in the bag!

The students at Lydd are totally hooked at the moment and have been busy crocheting useful items.

Some students in the group are still practising and perfecting their new skills crocheting additional bags and baskets following the same patterns to gain confidence and fully master the skill.

Other students have moved on, creating wonderful pieces, such as; a doggie poo-bag holder similar to the hard plastic ones that attach to your dog’s collar, a ‘granny square’ blanket and a crocheted fruit and vegetable bag, that we all want to make, a challenge that the rest of us have set ourselves.

Doggie poo-bag holder. Pawfect!

A finished crocheted fruit and vegetable bag.

The rest of the group started a crocheted fruit and vegetable bag last week and hope to finish it this week.

After spending much time watching the pair of blackbirds in and around my garden, on my roof, on the telegraph pole and so on, I now know they are nesting in my climbing rose.

If you look closely at the picture below you can just make out Mrs Blackbird’s tail feathers.

A recording of the ‘Marsh Frogs’, (a little longer than the recording posted last week).

Will soon be enough elder flowers to pick to make elder-flower cordial.

Totally hooked!

We have been busy walking the footpaths that we want to include in our audio trail, the weather has been so good that we had no problems with visibility this time. We had a copy of an ordnance survey map to navigate from but with major industrial scale farming the paths are not always clear.

Recording sounds

Derek Jarman’s memorial with stone token offerings

Thanks to funding from

We are including cultural history and heritage in our audio trail. We are celebrating artists, writers, composers who lived, worked and were inspired by the marsh. We are also collaging sounds from the landscape into the mix, including the sounds of marsh warblers, biplanes, skylarks and sheep. This photo shows my colleague with her sound recorder capturing the sounds as we walk.

Another activity this week has involved working with a partnership organisation The Romney Marsh Visitor Centre and @KentWildlife who offered us their pruned viminalis

Thanks to a team of volunteers we worked very quickly sorting and cutting suitable weaving material

Audio Trail, footpaths and big skies

There is something quite wonderful and therapeutic about being out and about in the Romney Marsh countryside surrounded by nature and wildlife. Everyday brings something new or just lovely to look at.

With the lighter evenings and some pleasant weather Fizz and I have been enjoying some evening walks with the family. Over the last two weeks we have seen some beautiful sights and listened to the wildlife.

I’ve had two geese honking as they flew over me, a fox crossing the road just a few feet in front of us, watched a pair of pheasants in a field and then fly off together, seen both parent swans sitting on their nest, lambs skipping and chasing one and other, a kestrel on a power line, bats and many, many rabbits and tiny bunnies.

Bats

The other evening we had some young cows/bulls follow us, (along the other side of the fence), up to the gate and allowed us to pat and stroke them. My son, an animal lover, was ‘over the moon’ with this and didn’t want to leave them.

Swans. He is always wary of Fizz.

We have heard the ‘marsh frogs’, pheasants in the background, pigeons and doves and, of course, the rooks.

We often have a pair of blackbirds in the garden and a blackbird singing , morning, (about 5am), noon and night, right up to around 9pm. Not sure if he is the male of the pair. He is either on our roof, our neighbours roof or on a nearby telegraph pole.

He is more visible in the first video but the rooks are quite noisy.

The rooks!

Birds singing

The ‘Marsh Frogs’ birds and, if you listen very carefully, towards the end you can hear a pheasant.

Feeling excited at Lydd! We have wool fleece ready for spinning. We are eagerly awaiting the return of our lovely lady who knows how to spin natural wool fleece into yarn!

Our latest challenge, to make a crocheted vegetable bag like the one below.

The Great Outdoors.

Everyone is welcome to join the procession in Hastings, the Jack is released and the whole town celebrates the start of summer in their own unique, creative and colourful style…

Also

Nature is awakening to the warm sunshine and April/ May showers….

New ideas for using the willow that was harvested in February

A design for a willow cloche, found in the lovely new publication by #JennyCrisp, starts by creating a structure in a large plant pot like this

Despite the clouds coming over, semi-green rods of 6.5 feet in length are added at the base in a 3 rod wale. A double helix style weave continues up the cloche and is finished off with another 3 rod wale again using semi- green rods.

This is a large version of the cloche, I intend to use it to support squash, sweet peas and gourds this year. The size is governed by the pot chosen. As you can see the uprights are used to create a dome like finish.

Once the cloche has been pulled out of the pot , you can use the lower part of the uprights for securing your cloche in the ground. Our garden is coastal so we need extra strong anchors for plant supports to cope with the strong sea winds.

For me, this was an experiment in: can I use semi-fresh willow that has been stored for 3 months? is it flexible? Strong and versatile?

Well the answer is yes, as long as you don’t want to make anything too complicated. This willow is not thin ie not suitable for basketry, however making plant supports yes a big thumbs up…I became so excited by this design I made another cloche the next day…

I’m also thinking, this could be the design for working with a group of students at the allotment….especially since I will be collecting more donated willow next week..

The cloches cost me nothing to make, apart from my time….🙌🙌🙌🙌

Welcoming Summer, #JitG and new cloches

I usually see and hear garden birds singing in my garden, such as; thrush, blackbird and robin. At the moment due to the rooks being very busy and noisy, ( probably feeding their young), I do still see such birds but have to listen carefully to hear them singing in the background.

Going to need a basket or two in a few months to harvest the cherries and the pears, if the birds don’t get there first.

I’m thinking a crochet basket would be suitable enough for the cherries,

and a willow one for the pears, fortunately I have made more than one of each as some of them are already in use. It’s a great feeling to make something you can use.

Some photos taken in my Romney Marsh country garden today.

Buddy

Fizz and Buddy

Bill and Ben

We are still enjoying crocheting bags and baskets at Lydd with some of the students completing a piece in just a few hours. It can be very addictive and can lead to being up until early hours to complete a project, the end result is worth it!

Early morning finish.

Work in progress.

Work in progress.

Nearly finished.

In a Romney Marsh country garden…

Spring is the time for new beginnings…at Lydd we have been learning to crochet baskets! One of the group members is really very good and she has been guiding us beginners, very patiently. We have all made at least one basket, some of us just need to crochet the handles and we have started crocheting a bag.

This could be the beginning of a social enterprise. We now need to learn how to spin ‘Romney Sheep’ wool and use the yarn we have spun to crochet baskets and more!

The word crochet comes from a french word, ‘croche’, meaning hook. Crochet still remains a hand-craft and has been around since the early 19th century, Europe, it was known as ‘shepherds knitting’.

Queen Victoria leaned to crochet and crocheted scarves for the veterans of the South African war.

By the 1920’s – 1930’s people across England had become ‘hooked’ and were crocheting hats, gowns and other garments.

During and after the war crochet was popular, women would crochet items for the troops and also collars and other accessories to give a fresh new look to their clothing.

The 1960’s and 1970’s saw the creation of the ‘granny square’ and crochet really became fashionable. Granny squares can be different sizes and are a good way of using up part balls of wool. They can be joined together to make blankets, clothing and accessories and homeware, such as cushion covers.

The largest ‘granny square’ blanket, in the world, was made in 2015. It measured 3,133 square metres. It was made as part of the ‘Mandela Day Celebrations’.

Information found on; Wool and the Gang Blog, A Brief History of Crochet, 2015.

New beginnings…

A perfect example of nature showing us how to make the very most of foraged materials. What a wonderful example of a ‘foraged Easter nest basket’, complete with eggs. The number of eggs in a clutch can be between 3 and 8.

Swans usually stay loyal to their partners for their lifetime. They will find another partner if one of them dies or they have a nesting failure.

If you have been lucky enough to see them with their curved necks making a heart shape, then you have seen part of their mating dance.

The male, (cob), is larger, has a bigger ‘blackberry’ on his beak and a thicker neck than the female, (pen).

The male helps with the nest building, sitting on the eggs and raising the cygnets. He will rear-up flapping his wings if he senses a threat, while guarding the nest. I witnessed this behaviour a few days ago when Fizz decided to join me in admiring the nest in the photos. When Fizz moved away and he settled down.

Fizz in the wheat field.

Swans are related to ducks and geese. Unlike swans, ducks often have an extra partner to produce extra offspring.

Could this be the extra partner?

Another basket!