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Category — Wool Against Weapons

Time, loss and change

Oh hello! Did you think I had been eaten by gnomes? or my pets? or that Scotty had finally beamed me up and beyond to the blue yonder? Disturbing thought.

No, here I am, all is well, sort of. But this New Year time through January and February has been more intense than I ever remember it being. I’ve had to resort to tidying the odd cuboard to calm my nerves on occasion. This is what I found in the latest poke around a dark drawer – last year’s intention list – ha, ha, let’s see how I did….

Hmmmmm, not bad on balance, but slightly disconcerting that I marked myself on my own list…at least it wasn’t in red pen.

The hardest part about January was losing someone I loved.

I have always considered myself to have come from a world of women, to have been surrounded by women – mothers, godmothers, girlfriends and daughters. They nurture me, hold me, inspire me, they are my life.

And yet I have been blessed to have had the most wonderful men in my life too – father, uncle, godfather, partners and sons, who, now I look closely, have been interesting, thoughtful, and funny and who have also gently shaped who I have become.

To have lost one of these men suddenly seven years ago was heartbreaking. To be losing another, in slow motion, even more so. But to have been given this time with them, in the first place is surely the best treasure that I have been gifted.

Saying goodbye to someone has made me take a long, hard look at this thing we call time. It is so hard to measure, and yet that is what I am trying to do. Suddenly, it is more precious almost than the breath in my body, and I really don’t know how much of it I have, for my own life, or for any of the other precious people in my world, and there are many. How can it be that life is so very long, and hard sometimes, and then it is over, in the smallest moment, with that final breath?

In the middle of the saddest time of this last 6 weeks, I was able to get away for a few days. I sat in a roundhouse with my sisters, and passed on my blessing for strong endings and brave new beginnings. It went into a cauldron tended by a beautiful woman land guardian, along with the spells, prayers and wishes of nineteen other women. It was stirred in, mixed together with ocean totems and we have each taken a jar of it home. Mine is sitting here expectantly, waiting. In a way, I guess that is what I am doing. Sitting, waiting, for what, I do not know. But there is a space growing, so we will see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work and organising to be done with Wool Against Weapons – 25 weeks left! And I am counting all the small blessings that are keeping me going in this winter time of change……

the best rice pudding in the world – you clever girl, for nailing the ultimate recipe and sharing it with me –

……a funny beast to share it with, he makes me smile (when I am not wanting to kill him for his bad deeds)

….sharing the best and maddest time with gorgeous women, preparing food together and laughing A LOT…

….the gentle smell of Suzi’s beeswax melting slowly in my kitchen, to make balm and honey…

…..finally seeing two years worth of ocean treasure collected up and ready to make into totems by my ocean sister…

….and because Imbolc’s light has quietly crept in to this winter grey, the making of Brigids crosses and the wonderfulness and pale green of spring bulbs – the sweetest blessing. May we all slowly unfurl ourselves, mend and stretch in to this new time….

February 10, 2014   5 Comments

NFS….Normal for Stroud

I’m home, I’m teenaged out…and I am due some normal time (please? someone point me in the right direction?). It feels good to be back in Stroud, and immersed in our green valleys again. It feels good to be doing what I usually do at home – knitting, working in the garden on my laptop, herding cats… you know, the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect in this circus we call everyday.

Over in these parts we even have our own facebook page called ‘Normal for Stroud’ and the disturbing thing is, it looks completely reasonable to my eyes. Sigh. It was no surprise to see that a photo of our pink scarf pitched up on it this week, randomly. O.K, in this last week of August, here is a little roundup of goings-on in my ‘Normal for Stroud’ life…..

First up, no sooner had I landed home, we were carted off to Treefest, sweet little local festival, with a healthy dose of axe and chainsaw tomfoolery for obsessive woody people. And why not. Whatever floats your boat. What was floating mine, big time, were the churros with cinnamon sugar and hot chocolate sauce. Here is concrete evidence that you can distract these woody people in a nano second with the right sort of carrot….ha ha ha…..

…not so focused on your woodturning now, are you, my little sawdusty friends…..

Back at the ranch there was plenty of time to dust down the old jazz classic ’78’s (and torment the dog with the promise of a biscuit on a turntable); mix up a jug of ‘Mushion Moules’ (a ridiculous and less sober interpretation of the better known Moscow Mule), and to round off the evening’s entertainment (after the fun of teasing the dog had waned) a little game of “tie a doughnut on a string and torment our blindfolded guests” – my how we laughed…..

Other noteworthy distractions have been: meeting a wizard with some rather interesting potions and resins; getting a little ‘makey’ with some blackberry and currant liqueur, stitching a couple of hops and lavender sleeping pillows; and rolling out an 80 meter piece of peace scarf down our road as you do, for a little pinky try out.

Is this normal for Stroud? I don’t know, all I am beginning to realise is that it is normal for me. As regular as these green wooded hills that we walk, and as fab as the people that pitch up at a moment’s notice – whether it is to hold up meters of knitting or to protest another awful war in our struggling world. Happy normal weekends to y’all…

August 29, 2013   No Comments

Reasons

I have been thinking about Peace. With a capital P. I have been trying not to be worthy, or self righteous, or so very dull. But the truth is, it’s been 68 years since human beings dropped atomic bombs on other human beings, causing devastation in the most brutal way imaginable. It changed our world forever. We are still making these bombs. What more is there to say? 

I want to acknowledge this pain of what we did, what we still do. I also want to hear peace in my own words, peace in my thoughts, peace in my body, peace with my pathway, peace with my pace. I really do. 

So, where to begin. Ah ha, at a Peace Camp. And why ever not. Okey dokey, sixteen reasons then, to upsticks from my lovely Stroudie life, and hoof over to an Atomic Weapons Factory, like you do, with little more than a few balls of wool and some sticky backed plastic. (we all know this to be a very big lie)….

Reason One: Because ModPlods are so very clever at hanging up colourful peace banners. Left a bit, right a bit….ah, that’s perfect!

 

Reason Two: Because its very lovely sitting on green grass knitting pink pieces of scarf with people you like alot

Reason Three: To learn new skills like making Japanese Peace Cranes out of coloured paper and then stringing them together on the fence – colour is where it’s at when it comes to the Ministry of Defence

Reason Four: Trident – can’t think of a whole lot it’s got going on that is positive. But a Peace Camp? What can give you more pleasure than subversive stitching…



Reason Five: You get to chalk around your dear friend making Hiroshima and Nagasaki shadow pictures onto military owned tarmac with kids chunky crayons, – now if that doesn’t feel naughty, then what does?

Reason Six: You get your own little ‘Get Out of Jail nearly Free’ card – should you be abducted by aliens or even more exciting, arrested

Reason Seven: Because (still wowed by the chunky chalks) graffiti is sooooooo much fun

Reason Eight: Because you get to hang out with mad French activists disguised as Breton pixies, and they will most certainly teach you jokes in their own language, protest songs, and if you are really lucky, lewd French drinking songs. Yay to that then.

Reaason Nine: Because you can decide on the spur of the moment to see what would happen if you block the main gate with several meters of pink scarf that brilliant people have knitted you.

Reason Ten: Because you get to conspire with super-smart people about how on earth you are going to pull off the mother of all insane 7 mile plans

Reason Eleven: Because you get to remember how precious and small and soft your new born baby was in your arms all those years ago, and wonder how frightened and desperate you would feel in those first moments if your world was devastated by a nuclear bomb

Reason Twelve: Because you will stand in the middle of Greenham Common and marvel at the power of nature to reclaim what was once an American base for Cruise Missiles. You will feel the presence of thousands of women around you, feel their courage in the face of so much conflict. It always seems impossible until it is done…..

Reason Thirteen: You will sit and wonder who is more wary and scared of who – us looking in on uniforms, guard dogs, machinery, war. Or them looking out at us with our rainbow colours, banners, chalk, singing, fasting.

Reason 14: Because insane, crazy out there things will just happen – like being chased by herds of wild ponies, galloping and snorting as you run for your life. Or singlehandedly holding a surprise skype conference with 80 French people and singing them the only french song you can remember from Primary school, to fill in the time.

Reason Fifteen: Because you will be in awe of the determination and ability of activists who can fast for 4 days, only drinking water, and still cheerfully go on huge long hikes between the bases.

And finally, Reason Sixteen: Because. Just because. There are some amazing people out there. Believe it. And even though they are a little crazy, and scarily unplanned and spontaneous, they are courageous and clever and we are a safer world because of them.

August 10, 2013   1 Comment

Scarily Fabulous

Oh this life as a hardened activist can be an exhausting one, don’t you know? But I am committed I tell you…..especially committed when there is a promise of cocktails and water splashing in 30 degrees.

But it’s not all Pina Coladas and paddling pools…well, ok, busted. It was this weekend. 

Oh you fantastic bunch of Aldermaston Peace Camp Women – how did I get so lucky and stumble across you? I wasn’t the most likeliest of candidates at the end of last year…but 6 months on, with mad hair and a nose ring I am really quite at home with the new me. And I was really quite at home at your camp, with its women centred, non hierarchical, gentle, fun, anything goes vibe. 

We prepared food together, sang together, talked, danced, slept, and steamed in soaring temperatures, and it was fab. Our camp angel had to be Margaret, with her lovely, calm, smiley energy as she washed dishes, made delicious food and looked after everyone with her gentleness.

Camp superstar had to be Lucy for bringing outrageous dressing up clothes that tipped us over the edge into mad squealing during the impromptu disco from my little iPod – sisters are definitely doing it for themselves.

Camp hero has to be Rebecca doesn’t it? – for leading us to a magical alder grove for an elegant synchronised swim on Saturday afternoon – we were water nymphs at their finest (sadly my camera didn’t get grabbed to record that little treat, maybe just as well, as our muddy bottoms and nettled legs could be slightly distracting in celluloid).  

Other camp wonderfulness was a fantastic watermelon salad, our own camp cinema on Saturday night for a screening of ‘Carry Greenham Home” and Lisa spoiling Ann and I by feeding us spoonfuls of melted chocolate as we lounged in the coolness of the paddling pool – you fabulous girl. Just too many treats to list them all. 

Wool Against Weapons was there of course – our beautiful, growing, pink peace scarf decorating our space, and reminding me all the while of  you generous, amazing knitters and your clicking needles.

I took along a big basket of wool and we all got stuck in – we even had a knitting vigil on the roundabout outside the main gate. Ask me what I am knitting? Well, PC Rob, it looks like you’ve just been hijacked by a bunch of crazy women and are knitting for peace, pet. What do you know? 

But you know what? All things balance in life I find. And just in case this intrepid activist wanna-be got carried away here on the glamour of it all, let me tell you this. This was no girl guide’s jamboree. We were there for some really scary reasons. There’s some pretty heavy stuff going on, on the other side of that fence. They make bombs. Bombs kill. People, animals, environment, our souls.

And in their wisdom (??) the Government is wanting to spend another £120 billion on keeping this weapon of mass destruction going. Hey ho, hospital beds, education and our safety are probably hugely overrated anyway. Hmmmmm. 

But here’s the thing. We have a choice. Come closer, I want to whisper something desperately secret to you. Are you ready? Once you’ve heard it, it will make you as insanely dangerous as me.

Up for it? O.k, it is this – we are powerful, each and everyone of us. We can think independently, choose to be different, speak out, get together, resist. There it is. The R word. RESIST. Afterall, its sheep we’re up against. 

If each and everyone of us told their M.P, (preferably in a letter), like they did recently in Scotland, “Listen Bud, if you are up for this bomb they call Trident, then we simply won’t vote for you” – then girl, will they start shifting nervously in their pressed suits, and wonder what the hell to do next.

Sure, you can tell me it’s complex and multi-layered, but REALLY is it? We do not want this nasty, nasty WMD in the world. Not in this land, not anywhere. Let’s begin somewhere. 

And what better place to begin than with a small bunch of thoughtful, committed women, intent on changing the world*. Indeed its the only thing that ever could – along with some cocktails, some songs and a whole heap of belief and a gutsy attitude. Bring it on.

* Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

 

July 19, 2013   No Comments

A dog, a frog and plenty of wool…..

Yes siree, this is panning out to be a strange time….where did those strong roots that I was telling you about disappear to? Never mind being grounded, I seem to have been rushing around all over the shop, and not really achieving very much at all. But I have been having fun, I think, in the meantime, and I have been to Wales and back…yahoodie to that then.

Oh, how badly lost do I always get when I venture out alone to Wales? It is pitiful. I always end up sitting on the verge of some remote lane, weeping, while sheep look at me suspiciously. I don’t blame them. Its a sad sight. I am way too impractical to take a map, so usually just rely on my girl guide instincts to get me outta there. They are long days, those Welsh days. But listen, my instincts were sharpened this time – I was on the way to Wonderwool on the other side of them there Black Mountains…and I tell you, my friends, I can sniff out exciting yarn from 100 miles away

Yeah, thought that might make you sit up….nice huh? And you know? There was miles of the stuff….never seen so much wool crammed into one cow shed. These Wonderwool people were not messing around. Mind you, neither was I…I rocked up with a whole load of pink peace scarf and a plan to brainwash nicely persuade woolly punters to join me in my plan of gureilla wool fare – which I did, with the help of a few friends. 

There was plenty of time too for a stroll around to drool at gorgeous yarn and people doing weavy, woolly things (I clearly have all the technical jargon up my sleeve, such a pro) – take a look:

I feel I should be able to tell you exactly what they are doing in those pictures, particularly the woman with the baby…but you know, I didn’t really like to ask, so walked around looking knowledgeable and stroking my chin a lot…oh, I’m so rock n’ roll (not).

Hey, talking of rock n’ roll though, I did meet a very wonderful folky girl and her guitar, singing songs of protest, paganism and knitting – yay to Talis Kimberley, check her out!

Right, so that was the wool bit done and dusted. Back home (I made it back eventually, via a ridiculous detour nearly to Hereford and back) and time for a bit of gardening. I have an exciting snail plan to reveal to you soon. This is my world in the summer months. THE SNAIL ISSUE. Do you think I don’t have it in me to bore the pants off you for the second year in a row about snails…oh think again sweet friends. There’s plenty more where that came from. So, a wee tidy up in the front garden, planting of beans, salad, flowers, squash, tomatoes. 

And look at this little cutie-pie found near our pond…I was seriously tempted to have a little go at kissing him….you know, just to see…..

The other thing thats been going on in my valley is a call to hands to get our Red Hearth ready for its opening in June. I will tell you all about that soon. For now though, witchy women and moon daughters gathered to sing and paint signs to mark the way up the woodland path. We were tempted there by lots of cake (a given).

I was lucky enough to meet Jackie Singer there too, a musician and author of Birthrights, a book of ritual and celebration. Lots of good things to check out. 

Oh dear, have I been nattering on for too, too long? It’s the Beltane energy you know, a time when everything speeds up and there’s just so much whizzing around. Time to trot myself back up to that art studio and get on with some work……

….content in the knowledge that there is beautiful wool in the world, beautiful people, and that the plan of pinky badness is coming along just fine jimboy…with the help of my new and rather goreous P.A….meet Rose….my latest recruit. Go on. Ask her what she’s knitting.

May 4, 2013   2 Comments

Stop Fooling with Nuclear Weapons

How rock and roll do you want me to be?

I am a bit of a Libran at heart, and so my thinking world is often very grey in that I can see all sides, value lots of different ways of seeing issues. On Monday, I travelled to the Stop Fooling with Nuclear Weapons Protest at Aldermaston, and had one giant dose of black and white dished up to me. I don’t really know where to begin.

O.K, so to set the scene…there were lots of different gates and a very big wire fence surrounding the bomb factory – and many, many fab rainbow people gathered around each of the different gates. Knowing I couldn’t get to visit all of them, I concentrated on two – the Women’s gate and the Faith Gate. First job – hang up a length of our pink peace scarf – oh, for longer legs…

There were some very moving things tied up there, including these beautiful origami peace cranes that had been painstakingly arranged despite fingers being so numb they were nearly dropping off.

…and fabulously colourful stitched banners…I am determined to make my own banner of loveliness – anyone up for helping me?

Hey, check out these little crocheted birds that had cheekily yarn bombed their way into one quiet corner….

O.K.That’s enough of the stitchy angle, lets get down to business. I have to tell you that I met some AMAZING people that day – people of hope, people of faith, people of determination, smiley people, articulate smart people and just plain awesomely wild people!!

This is me talking knitting to one of the oldest women in the U.K. Her name is Hetty, and at 107 she was totally up for protesting nuclear insanity. Go Hetty! Next to us is the M.P Jeremy Corbyn – he had some totally inspiring things to say too.

Dr Rebecca Johnson was there (one of the awesome people I mentioned earlier) – now she has some feistiness that I wouldn’t mind a little of. Here she is reminding us that what we do locally feeds into political debate globally. Oh yes, people, we can and do make one hell of a difference.

Kate Hudson, CND General Secretary was there and up for modelling a bit of our pink scarf – yay! And there was also possibly the most formidable women I am ever likely or lucky enough to meet. Here she is with Kate – Pat Arrowsmith. She is a peace campaigner of some standing, has had prime ministers quaking at her sustained heckling, is a voracious gay rights advocate and having served 11 prison sentences was force fed when on hunger strike in Gateshead prison as a younger woman. That is some C.V.

There were some gorgeous Somali women who I had fun dancing with when the time for making noise and banging pots and pans came. And oh! I was ablaze with cheekiness about asking people to be photographed with that scarf of pinkiness – I knobbled Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, and several others – some needed to be incognito – they were obviously on more secret missions…sssssh….

Oh yes, this was a day of anti-nuclear frolicking to be sure – and with 19,000 nuclear weapons in the world, someone had to do it. There was a smackeral of glamour too – here I am trying to advise Katharine Hamnett on the ins and outs of a knit and pearl (yes, so she is Queen of the World when it comes to all things textiley, but hey! I was unstoppable by then….)

I need to tell you how exciting it was unrolling those first pieces of pink peace scarf that we have all knitted. Wool Against Weapons is on the map, and on Monday was in people’s hands, draped around shoulders, hung on the fence, and most of all being talked about.

So, I stepped into that whole rush of black and white thinking, and it was good. There is no middle land in this debate – Trident has to go. We cannot afford the £100bn in renewing it, and our dear planet certainly cannot afford the consequences of something so morally reprehensible and vile being fired. There, was that rock and roll enough for you..

As one of the brilliant banners said – “Resistance is to make yourself one safe republic of unconquered spirit” – well, I saw many of those such spirits there, and wow, did it blow me away.

Actually, what really nearly blew me away was being handed a pink megaphone in one mad moment, in front of the crowd at the Women’s gate – and fired up on a few too many virtual coffees jumping up and going for it….ooops! This is Jaine Rose (again), unzipped and crazy pink, signing off

April 3, 2013   No Comments

Week

:: Saturday ::

Stroud’s rag market…always so fab, rummaging around offcuts of hand dyed french linens, buttons, quilts, beads…such a good distraction on a difficult day

:: Sunday ::

An Equinox gathering on Kesty and Martin’s land – hot tea and some community theatre which made me laugh and cheered me up

:: Monday ::

Sewing together some pink pieces of scarf, and really loving the moving stories being sent to me along with them….there are some wonderful people out there

:: Tuesday ::

A Twitter tutorial – trying to get my middle aged brain around something really simple – slightly edgy when teenagers arent the most patient of teachers

:: Wednesday ::

A good old fashioned day at the seaside with Grandma and Grandpa – eating ice cream in a near blizzard – March – you’ve got to love springtime….

:: Thursday ::

A truly mad, crazy two hours with Pixie-Bee, the Hotpants and Saskia-pie – playing trains, stitching lavender bags, nappy changing, song singing, biscuit eating and other fun stuff

:: Friday ::

Back to big kids – a chocolate fudge birthday cake for my youngest teenager

:: Saturday ::

Stroud Farmers Market essential – olives from the Olive Ladies – seriously good, guaranteed happiness

My birthday boy – gotta love a 15 year old in a furry owl onesy

So this is my funny old week – week one of the school holidays – and still feeling like midwinter. Not an especially easy one, but there are pieces of loveliness and colour to be found if I look hard enough. And as always, my camera is around my neck, ready and waiting.

March 30, 2013   2 Comments

Alice in Freakyland

No sooner was I back from my beautiful dreamtime on Dartmoor, I was catapulted in the most alarming way into an adventure of a very exciting and strange kind. Curiouser and curiouser. 

Having survived giving umpteen presentations on nuclear war to hoards of teenage Year 9 and 10’s – oh yes, really…. – I packed a little bag and headed off for the campaign launch of Action AWE in Reading. Oh, this was going to be fun……

Action AWE is a grassroots campaign of non-violent actions determined to halt the production of the big, scary weapons of badness at Aldermaston and Burghfield. I got massively inspired by all the people I met there, including the two great speakers Rebecca Johnson and Kate Hudson who gave us a lively evening with their sparky ideas and messages of hope and empowerment. 

Not only that, but we got to wear great t-shirts too, eat biscuits and laugh a lot

Next up in the surreal, you’ve gotta be kidding stakes, was a meeting with Thames Valley Police, to talk through, among other things, the logistics of stringing a 7-mile long pink scarf from one bomb factory to another in the summer of 2014. Now, as everyday conversations go, that was out there. Oh, and do you knit, Inspector?? “Very funny, someone get this mad woman out of my police station…(handcuff her first)”

Ah well, after a packed lunch, on to the said Atomic weapons-making factory, to suss out the potential for some fabulous yarn bombs on their front gates. Grey metal is such an unimaginative colour, don’t you think? It is my absolute duty, I do believe, to jazz it up a little. My mind started clicking with ideas….

It’s a pretty scary, Alice-in-freakyland place really. Electric fences, Mod-plods with mad uniforms, signs saying no photos to be taken (whoops….) – all the ingredients for a splendid day out. Oh, and should there be some nasty nuclear disaster while you are walking around the perimeter fence? No worries, they have that covered too. Clever Burghfield

O.K, I may sound a little sarky here, but it is in-your-face real, and just plain frightening, when you think about what these weapons can do. Each warhead (and there is a potential of 192 in the U.K) can unleash a destructive power 8 times greater than Hiroshima. So now I am less skippy, as I drive the route that our pink scarf will take.

Of course, these guys really meant it when they said ‘no photos’ and I guess an insane pink-haired woman hanging out of a car window with her Sony SLS constitutes a good enough reason for a rather jolly ‘stop and search’ – too much fun. Do knitting needles and pink wool arouse suspicion? I do hope so….

Yup, this has been a million miles from my precious time at Dartmoor. But one more step along my path of pink revolution. I am fearless, I am bold, I am tenacious. I am pink. Kate Adie, eat your heart out….

March 7, 2013   1 Comment

The Mother of all Pink Plans….

Right then. I have been teasing you for long enough – Christmas is nearly upon us, and I can’t get twinkling with festive posts until I have revealed all. Do you remember back in October when I became crazed with the idea of jumping over a 7ft high barbed wire fence??

And then in November I became a bit possessed with pink wool dreams, beside my ocean? 

Well, December has seen me go completely and finally la-la with the dyeing and shaving of my hair…..

But it is all part of my very CUNNING plan people!
Which is this…….

I am going to singlehandedly with lots of willing hands knit and crochet a 7 mile long Peace Scarf that is going to run between the Atomic Nuclear Weapons factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire. It will be one big old woolly protest against the U.K’s ongoing involvement with nuclear weapons and the £80 billion our Government is intending to spend in 2016

Yes, it is completely insane, but I also think its going to be hugely fun and empowering….are you in?? Are you?? So all you do is knit or crochet a piece of the scarf which needs to measure 60cm x 100cm – in any stitch, any kind of wool…as long as it is PINK!! Also, don’t forget to email me and let me know how you are getting on. I have already started- here is my piece, nearly finished

O.K, so I am not the best knitter in the world – but power to the Yarn Bomb revolution is what I say! If you are feeling inspired to join me on my journey, and I would really LOVE you to, then take a look at the Wool Against Weapons website at www.woolagainstweapons.co.uk

And just to make it even more interesting, and because, well, it’s nearly Christmas, I am going to send a little package of my sparkly stitchy witch cards to the first five people that email me a photo of their finished piece of woolly scarf…how does that sound?

So take up your hooks and needles all you stitchy girls and boys out there, because this is an act of guerilla wool-fare – our lovely planet needs you so, so much…..

December 11, 2012   9 Comments