I went home to stay with my parents this weekend, and on Saturday drove off with Mum to see some of her sculptures in an exhibition near Tewkesbury. We avoided the motorway, wending our way through the gently beautiful Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside, and were thinking aloud that it was about time we stopped for some tea when we saw signs to coffee at Filkins.
I was quite excited as we pulled into the car-park to see bales of cloth piled up along the side of the windows, and more so when we found that the route to the café took us through the tithe barn, filled with furniture covered in their own tweed, blankets woven in the Cotswolds, and two of their looms. I was looking at a display of old Welsh blankets when a large hamper caught my eye.
I had to do a double take when I saw the sign above it:
I went off to check in the shop that it they really did mean 'free yarn', and then came back to start rummaging through the basket to find quite a lot of it was sodden and some of it seemed to be growing mould! The lady kindly came after me with some plastic bags to pack it into, and explained that it was soaking wet because they'd left the basket outside in the rain for a while until someone suggested they bring it inside in case someone wanted any of it.
I made off with quite a lot of yarn, more than I would have been able to justify if it hadn't been waiting to rot! The yarn is spun for weaving, so it might not knit up brilliantly, but I'm going to do some little swatches and if it twists too much take the cones to Oxfam. Like most weaving yarn, it's spun in the grease, and what with being damp too it smelled pretty awful.
I left it in my parents' kitchen, the warmest room in the house (I even put the largest cones in the oven to dry as it cooled after baking some mushrooms), and I've just remembered I left it there when I raced off to get my bus on Monday morning. Sorry Mum! Hope it's not too smelly.
Something even better to come out of the day (apart from seeing the beautiful garden at Showborough House, meeting its warm and generous owners and feeling thoroughly proud of my mum) was that Mum was so taken with some of the yarn on little bobbins (labelled 'thrums', although I thought thrums were these?) that she asked me to teach her to knit.
I started her on some 5 mm bamboo needles which I'd bought as part of a needle roll from ebay when I was learning to knit. They're quite long, and when I looked up she'd tucked one of them under her arm! I was so impressed I let out a hoot of glee at which she quickly removed it and said, 'Oh I'm probably doing it all wrong', but I explained that I'd always wanted to knit like that but could never get the hang of it. I spoke to her on the phone today and she proudly told me that she'd been knitting away in front of the Ten O'Clock News last night with one needle tucked under the arm and 'the other one waving all over the place'. When she started she asserted that she only wanted to knit little squares 'to hang things from' (I assume like a fabric noticeboard that she'd pin to the wall), but this morning she told me that her technique was so much better she thought she ought to actually knit 'something' to try it out on.
Well I never.