Category Archives: re-blog

SILK

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SILK

This is a very informative post of the history of silk in China, from ancient myths about the origin of silk, the medieval international trade in silk, via The Silk Road, and some thoughts about modern tourism in China. Debbie has written several posts on the theme of Silk. See also my post “Luscious Silks“.

spaceship china

China has an exceptionally long history. It is one of the few civilizations on Earth that has a continuous culture, an ancient past, a vibrant present, and a certain future.

None of the cultural attributes, industries or thoughts of China epitomize that long history better than  SILK.

Silk from Beijing 

Silk culture – known a sericulture – began in China many centuries back. 嫘祖, Lei Zu or Ancestor Lei, whose name was 西陵氏, Xi Lingshi, was an Empress.Not just any Empress, mind you, her husband was the Yellow Emperor, China’s legendary ancestor-hero.

IMG_1704 Yellow Emperor carved in stone, at entrance to park along the Yellow River

One day, the young empress (she was only 14 years old at the time) was drinking tea under a mulberry tree. A cocooned silkworm fell into her cup of tea, and a long silken thread emerged from the coccon. SILK was born.

silk from a…

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A is for Aylesbury Ducks

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I am reblogging this post from “the spare” which is my other site, because I am following the A-Z challenge this month, and it seems that they need me to start here, but I have started there – you will see what I mean when you read the blog – the theme I will mostly follow for this month’s challenge, is breeds of poultry.

the spare

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a0I have joined the A-Z challenge, which means I will be posting daily short pieces, which follow the alphabet, and other members of the challenge will hopefully visit the blog and comment on it!

At the same time, I hope many of them – you – will be adding your links to your spare, which is a networking page for anyone about anything.  Plug done!

As I’ve just hatched some chicks – see the pictures here – it occurred to me that I might follow a theme – as per the teams suggestions – and am starting off with the idea of choosing different breeds of poultry to talk about.

I may digress at some point, and also add some of these posts on my crafts blog julzcrafts.com,so when there isn’t a daily post here about chickens or poultry, there will hopefully be one on a related…

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drumroll – tada! introducing…..’your spare’…..

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there is someone else out there using my name – smile
go and have a look at ‘the spare‘ and ‘your spare

you are welcome to leave your own comments and thoughts – that’s what its for – promote yourself – add a link!

Fair Isle Knitting – a radio 4 programme for you to listen to + more knitting info

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current fair isle knitting from the shetland collection

current fair isle knitting from the shetland collection

During January, BBC Radio 4, and Woman’s Hour, unusually, had a theme running about knitting, which I saved and thought I’d put it up on the blog for anyone who would be interested.

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Among the old programmes they added to their ‘Archive Page’, was this one, about Fair Isle. I’ve never tried copying one of these before, so if it doesn’t work, the page link is below this box.
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I have tested it, and if you click “listen in pop up player” you should get a new page and the 30 minute programme, with picture, direct from the BBC.  The original programme was first broadcast on SAT 31ST JULY 2010.
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I’m not sure whether this is a permanent ‘archive’ or whether, if you try and listen to it in a few weeks time, it will have been withdrawn from the iplayer – but its here now, if you want to listen to it – along with a link to the full archive page, below.

Fair Isle Knitting

Listen in pop-out player

Moira Hickey visits Fair Isle, famous around the world for its knitting. With a plentiful supply of wool from the island’s hardy Shetland sheep, knitting kept many families from starvation, and the craft is still economically important for Fair Isle. Yet with Shetland schools soon to drop knitting from the curriculum, can it survive for much longer? Will Shetland’s children still learn to knit, and if they don’t, will it really matter? Moira Hickey visits Fair Isle to look at the importance of knitting to the islanders, and to ask what the future holds for this traditional craft. Available now

This is the link to the programme if you can’t use the the pop up link

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00t5vkh#auto

And this is the link to the whole Archive they put together on knitting

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/24yX6CDWJH6QkjvmJ3shhzF/radio-4-knitting

Happy Chinese New Year

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Happy Chinese New Year

Is it the ‘year of the goat’, or the ‘year of the sheep’?  Well let’s ask an expert – smile!

Thanks Debbie, for permission to re-blog any of your posts, and as its the Chinese New Year on Thursday 19 February this year, I thought I’d choose this one, after all as you live in China, its the most appropriate one!  If readers are interested in this post, you might also like to look at the previous post on spaceship china “Going Home for the New Year”.

spaceship china

If you do a quick internet search, you’ll find the most popular Chinese New Year expressions are

新年快乐   Xīn Nián Kuài Le,  or 年年有余 nián nián  you yu.

These expressions are found everywhere on the internet because they are actually used regularly in China. The first one is simply “happy new year” and the second one means “every year have fish” – a way of wishing prosperity for all.

You’ll also hear 过年好 guo nian hao – meaning the old year has passed, and indicating best wishes for the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new.

With the year of the sheep or goat ( 羊 yang can mean both sheep and goat) arriving, expressions with these animals are popular. Whilst  expressions relating to goat are common , the cuddly toys which fill shops every Chinese New Year are more likely to be sheep than goats –…

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what is jute? – information sheet no 1

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Information sheets are an idea I have had for a while – these will, hopefully, be a resource for all readers. This is the first of a library of i/sheets that you can consult at any time. I do not intend to write them all – if you have an idea for one and would like to submit it, please use the form on the ‘contact me’ page.  There is no planned timetable for posting these, they will appear – as and when – a good subject comes along!

WHAT IS JUTE?

hessian sacking

hessian sacking

spun jute for weaving and twine

spun jute for weaving

I have been buying in quite a lot of jute, in one form or another.  There is hessian, cones of spun jute for weaving, and garden ties, shopping bags and laundry/storage baskets – all currently listed across the 4 sites you will find underneath my photo on the right hand side. (Clicking on these 3 photos will also take you to my sites.) I just accepted the notion that it is a cheap, reliably strong material from which certain products were made. I didn’t even pause to wonder where it grew and what it was – maybe you were always better informed than I was – but I doubt if everyone knows much about jute and where it comes from.

jute laundry basket

jute laundry basket

It is always described as Eco Friendly by my suppliers, and I can trust their descriptions, because they provide proof of where the items come from and even pictures of the people that make them. But – come to think of it – I can’t remember them doing a piece on jute! So the first place I went to for information was Wikipedia – easy as that!  They even had pictures! “Jute is a long, soft, shiny vegetable fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from plants in the genus Corchorus. ……..”Jute” is the name of the plant or fiber that is used to make burlap, Hessian or gunny cloth……..Jute is one of the most affordable natural fibers and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses of vegetable fibers. Jute fibers are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin……. The fibers are off-white to brown, and 1–4 metres (3–13 feet) long. Jute is also called “the golden fiber” for its color and high cash value. Another search for pictures led me to this blog, written in 2012, so rather than paraphrase it, I’m just copying most of it from:

Jute Harvesting and Basic Processing

jute rope

jute rope

Jute is a natural fibre that is mainly grown across West Bengal in India and in Bangladesh with some also grown in, Myanmar, Uzbekistan, Thailand and China. The jute is taken from the stem and the skin of the stem, which is called the ribbon.  It is a crop that has been used for centuries and there is evidence that the Chinese were using jute fibres as the basis for early paper. The industry really began to develop with the building of large scale mills during the time of the British East India Company.  The jute was initially exported to the UK and to Dundee in particular, where there was a well-established flax industry. Initially the fibre could only be processed by hand but it was discovered that whale oil allowed to be processed by machine.  The jute industry went through a boom time and the factory owners in Dundee became known as the Jute Barons.  This is yet another example of the value being added to the product outside of the “colonies” for the greater good of the colonial powers.  Following the decline and fall of the British Empire and the discovery and mass production of artificial fibres the mills began to close.  The industry has been in decline for some years, and although the demand for natural fibres has improved things, the increase has not been as great as hoped. Jute is known as the “golden fibre” in Bangladesh and is an important source of income for the farmers. I took these photographs during my recent trip to northern Bangladesh, around Saidpur. It was the end of the growing season and the harvest was just beginning. The jute is harvested and then allowed to soak for a few days in water before the fibres can be stripped off and left to dry. It is then transported, often by bicycle rickshaw, to collection points before being taken to the mills where it is processed and turned into the familiar fibres found in sacks, carpet backing and bags. Jute can also be processed into finer, more delicate yarns which occasionally are turned into clothes. Jute awaiting harvest Jute being harvested The jute is then bundled and left to soak in water.  Here it’s soaking next to a partially flooded Hindu graveyard After the jute has soaked for a few days, the fibres can then be stripped from the stems The fibres are then dried, often on the side of the road before being taken to the collection points and then the mills And going back to Wikipedia

  • Jute fiber is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly.

    coffee sacks made of jute

    coffee sacks made of jute

  • Jute has low pesticide and fertilizer needs.
  • It is a natural fiber with golden and silky shine and hence called The Golden Fiber.
  • It is the cheapest vegetable fiber procured from the bast or skin of the plant’s stem.
  • It is the second most important vegetable fiber after cotton, in terms of usage, global consumption, production, and availability.

Jute has loads of uses – and the leaves are eaten in many of the producing countries These are the 2011 production figures for the various countries that produce jute:

Top ten jute producers — 2011[8]
Country Production (Tonnes)
 India 1,924,326
 Bangladesh 1,523,315
 People’s Republic of China 43,500
 Uzbekistan 18,930
   Nepal 14,418
 Vietnam 8,304
 Burma 2,508
 Zimbabwe 2,298
 Thailand 2,184
 Egypt 2,100
 World 3,583,235