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 Had a great weekend gaming with a group of friends from all over the place. Old PBM friends (Delenda est Carthago), Redemption and Discworld friends, Morris dancers, local gamers, nephews, etc.

I also got to chat about yarn with tictactoepony

We have a (inherited) gadget that looks like this:


I figured it had something to do with yarn winding, but when I tried to wind yarn on it, it made a ball that was too tight to slide off the cylinder (the wooden cylinder is concave),  the cylinder is also hollow, with a interior profile a bit like and ice cream cone.

One of our party suggested it was a winder for lace bobbins, and there are certainly pictures on the web of gadgets like this labelled as bobbin winders.  (and there is something that might be a lace pattern in the drawer at the bottom) Frustratingly, there are no pictures or videos of them actually being used to wind lace bobbins... (the bobbin would presumably fit inside the cylinder).  I'm not entirely convinced by this, as I can't help feeling that the bobbin wouldn't be gripped very well.

then I found this video, which simply makes things more complicated:

Our gadget is clearly missing some pieces. The sticking out arm on the side is intended to hold some crossed bits of wood that make up something called a 'swift'. You place a skein of yarn over the swift and then you can wind a ball from it.Watching tictactoepony winding  yarn from another swift that I own showed me what the clubs are probably for. I think they are nostepinnes. She used a thick biro to do the same job. You wind the wool round them, rotating it as you go.  (she does it better than the video below, but you'll get the idea.


If you have an idea of what my winder is actually meant to do and how it works, please tell me! 



 There's nothing like dancing for the soul.

 I can be all stressed and twitchy, and after two hours longsword practice I'm at peace with the entire world.

Southern Star are only just large enough to survive as a side, but I think we're going to make it.  We're a mixed ability bunch to say the least, but the dances are starting to flow.  We're moving with the music now and that's making a big difference.

The timing in longsword has to be a bit intuitive -in morris, if you make a mistake, you just nip back into the correct position. That's not possible in longsword, you have to find ways for the group to get back in sync with the music.  After a while, you realise that at least some of the moves in traditional longsword dances are designed to give a bit of catch up time.  Moves that can be a bit variable in length are often followed by  simple circle moves that can soak up time until a new phrase of  the music begins.

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Bobby Shafto

 Bobby Shafto is one of those songs that most of my generation know, without even knowing where they learnt it.

It normally has three verses, although the nursery rhyme videos for kids all seem to leave out the one about her having  a baby.

However, the
Wikipedia entry says that it was supposedly written about a girl who died for love when he came back and married someone else, and none of the versions of the song I can find include that part.  So, I've written an extra verse.

Bobby Shafto's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!
Bobby Shafto's bright and fair,
Combing out his yellow hair;
He's my ain for evermore,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!
Bobby Shafto's getting a bairn,
For to dangle on his arm;
In his arm and on his knee,
Bonny Bobby Shafto!


Bobby Shafto's home from sea,

Wed a maid, forgotten me,
Will he love me if I die?
Bonny Bobby Shafto!
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Too many committees

 I'm definitely on too many committees.

I've just done the AGM minutes and updated the constitution for Anonymous Morris (but still have all sorts of stuff relating to bookings for next year and updating dance notation on the web site to do)

I have to hold a mini AGM for Southern Star Longsword tonight to see if we have enough people to form a committee. Don't need that many posts, but I'd like it if someone competent offered to do publicity as that's a major job for a small, new, dance group.  I'm doing all the jobs for Southern  Star at present, but sometimes that's what you have to do to get something off the ground.

I'm working on a new constitution for the local Allotment Society -which is a devil of a job.  The Chair doesn't really believe in Constitutions and proposed we adopt one out of an old Allotment book she had, as it was short.  The fact that it set a minimum committee number of three more than we currently have, that it assumed a totally different relationship between the landlord and the Allotment Society than is actually the case and several other  things that simply didn't fit our circumstances was clearly irrelevant. I don't think she'd bothered to read it.

I'm also doing masses of stuff for Wimborne Minster Folk Festival...

I'm feeling tired and short of free time and I really want to sit down for several days and do nothing but knitting. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


Oswin and Edward Lear

 Oswin has recently been enjoying Richard reading Dr Seuss books like 'One Fish Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish' to her.  While the illustrations are amusing, it's probably the rhyme and rhythm of the words that are a big part of the appeal.

So, today, I tried 'The Jumblies' on her.  (the last time I tried, she was still too young and wasn't interested, but now she's nearly 2 1/2)

Big success.

Read it half a dozen times throughout the day and followed that up with a couple of readings of 'The Owl and the Pussycat'.

Only a few pictures for each poem.  Definitely the words that she loved. Big smile at the end each time and requests for another reading.

Edward Lear's poems appear to be working for yet another generation of children.  Oswin has no idea what all the made-up words mean, but it doesn't seem to bother her any more than it did my generation.  Personally, I think a runcible spoon is a spoon with holes in it (the kind you use for draining things).  It fits Lear's cheerful illogic.

 Far and few, far and few,
            Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
      Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
            And they went to sea in a Sieve.

I think the time may have come to get Kipling off my bookshelf.  Oh yes, my best beloved.  I'm itching to read her the 'The Elephant's Child' and the other Just So stories. My father read them to me, and I read them to my children.  They were written to be read aloud, the words roll along.  "What does the crocodile have for dinner?"
"Go to the banks of the great grey-green, greasy Limpopo River, all set about with fever-trees, and find out."

Go and read it again, you know you want to!  And if you've never read it, find a child and read it to them immediately.
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 This is Oswin directing a digger near her house.  (having parents who regularly do convention tech means that she already has the high vis jacket)

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Keeping fit

 Southern Star were practicing this evening when we found a group of local teenagers having a fag break from the rain under the porch of the library.

So, as one does, we invited them in to watch us practice our dance.

When they were impressed by that, I gave three of them swords (the 4th one decided just to watch) and proceeded (as one does) to teach them the dance. They picked up really quickly and greatly enjoyed it.  I think there's a fighting chance we might see one of two of them again. I hope so. They were a nice group of kids and have real potential as dancers.

I was amused near the end when one of them commented how much energy I had. I'm three times her age and this was a dance done at a brisk walk.   It really is nothing on the energy front.

Last week, I was on the canals, running between locks in a flight, winding stiff paddle gear and pushing open heavy lock gates. Now, that requires energy!  (and I'm aware that I can't run long distances without slowing down for a break now and then.)

Take up morris dancing and  retain the illusion of staying young and fit...

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 I'm having general fun with longsword related stuff.

I did four informal longsword workshops at Discworld and people really enjoyed them.

I'm getting a lot better at teaching the dances now. Once upon a time, I would probably have gone into great detail, telling people where they had to move, and the steps they should take, and which way they should turn at the end of the move. In a typical longsword dance, there are 6 people and each of them will be taking different actions.
Now, my typical approach is to give everybody a sword, get them to stand in a straight line behind me, say: "Follow me and do what I do."
This usually gets everyone through the first four moves of the dance without any difficulty at all. The more complicated moves, such as a double under, can often be tackled by saying: "You two make an arch; Julie and I will go under it. When you get to the other side, turn round and come back again. Steve follow Julie, Jennifer follow me."
This works 9 times out of 10. People instinctively turn in the correct direction, even when they've never done a sword dance in their lives. Sometimes, giving too much detail can actually confuse people.
The detailed instructions for double under come to several paragraphs and can be surprisingly difficult to understand.
Longsword, possibly more than any other kind of dance, is easiest to learn by actually doing it. And it's more fun that way.
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calling Bill Hay

 Bill, send me your email address.  I can't contact you via Dreamwidth as you haven't confirmed your address with them.

we're doing another Games Weekend.

Contact Judith dot Proctor at Gmail.com

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Puffer and family

 Here's Oswin sitting in front of her great-grandad behind the engine her great-great-grandad made. (With granny - me in purple trousers, and grandad - Richard sitting on the bench, in the background)

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Judith Proctor


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