Saturday, 29 March 2008

Saints and Dragons

We're back!! It has been such a wonderful holiday, and I wish I had lots of pictures to show you of it. Alas - our camera is rather poorly and didn't travel well at all, so I'm going to have to pinch other people's photos to show you some of the exciting things we have done.

The 'cottage' turned out to be an ancient farmhouse at the end of a very remote Welsh valley. Slate floor in the kitchen, stone walls at least three feet thick, and internal walls and floors of oak. Even the toilets had oak cisterns!! My absolute dream home and location. Our house was at the very end (head) of the valley, not far from the waterfall you can just see in this picture:

It being Wales there were pictures of dragons everywhere we went, and we managed to find some live ones at King Arthur's Labyrinth. Welsh muggles depict red dragons in all their patriotic bits and pieces, a red dragon being the national symbol that appears on the Welsh flag:

Of course, this is rather amusing to magical folk as we all know that the main breed of dragon in Wales is actually green. A rather artistic wizard has set up shop in one of the valleys near the Tanat valley (where we were staying) making and selling ornamental dragons which he sculpts from glass. At his studio I found a beautiful representation of a Welsh Green. Sadly we did not spot any live ones (Welsh Greens that is) during our stay. Perhaps we will see some next time we visit when I hope we will get up to some of the lesser known mountain tops which are their natural habitat (we couldn't this week as our youngest little wizard isn't yet up to such high-level flying).

The boys especially loved our trip on the Bala Lake Railway - a company that takes tourists up and down the Bala lakeside in little steam trains:

Mr. Wigworthy most loved our visit to something called the 'Centre for Alternative Technology' which shows lots of ways muggles can make and use electricity in a manner that will be less harmful to our dear planet. This is of special interest to Mr. Wigworthy due to its relationship to his engineering specialism (vortex management). I didn't realise how much of a problem rubbish is to muggles - they have to do something called 'recycling' to try and reduce it. I think this has something to do with 'saving energy' too - I didn't really understand it properly, and luckily of course I didn't have to because we just disappear ours, or transfigure it into something we want (like soil for Mr. Wigworthy's vegetables).

Oh dear - I nearly didn't tell you about the saint! In the lounge of our farmhouse there was a big metal plaque behind the stove with a hare, some oak leaves, and the name 'Melangell' cast into it. We found out when we visited the little church in the valley that Melangell was a 7th century saint in the valley who saved a hare from being killed by the local prince's hounds (it hid under her robes while she was praying). The prince was so impressed by her holiness that he gave her the valley for her own and she founded a religious community there (now gone, all but the church which still has an ancient Romanesque shrine to her - the only remaining Romanesque Christian shrine in the UK apparently). This story particularly interested me as my patronus is a hare!! I've found a picture of the shrine and an icon of Saint Melangell for you:

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Ravenclaw Quiz

This is the last Ravenclaw quiz for the current sock kit swap, so I have a break coming up before the next one (Professor Wartbobble has told us she will run another swap beginning at the end of May). Meantime some of the girls are doing a 'readalong' of one of the series of biographies that have been published concerning the incredible schooldays of our greatest hero, Harry Potter. I'm looking forward to learning more detail of his amazing deeds.
I'm also excited about seeing all the kits that should be received over the next couple of weeks. I'm away to Wales for a 'welcome in the hillsides' next week with Mr. Wigworthy and our little wizards (when will I stop calling my strapping fifteen-year-old 'little?) - we will be staying in a remote cottage on a mountainside, without access to the Floo Network. So I look forward to seeing lots of kits when we return, including (I hope) my own!
1. Who loves containers of all sorts?
Esmerelda Beanswallow
2. Who dyed her fingers blue?
Lavender Ackerly
3. Who is related to William Shakespeare?
Celestina Cadogan (purportedly)
4. Who wants to own an alpaca farm?
Victoria Black
5. Who hates carrots?
Selina Starfire
6. Who is from the Muggle town of Bagshot in Surrey?
Patonga Pinkstone
7. Who was searching for radishes in the winter?
Madam Ferula McGonagall
8. Who got a gift certificate to a LYS from a Slytherin boy for Valentine's Day?
Cecilia Kettleburn
9. Who discovered ghosts and house elves drinking tea in the Great Hall at midnight?
Ophelia Hopkirk
10. Who took an extra credit class called Muggle Fantasy Literature?
Selina Starflame
11. Who attended a Muggle music convention?
Patonga Wigworthy
12. Who taught herself to purl backwards?
Serafina Starfire
13. Who sports Ravenclaw Spirit socks?
Minerva Kwikspell
14. Who would like to work in Muggle Relations after graduation?
Allitrya Spelling
15. Whose Mum is named Henrietta?
Avada Finch-Fletchley

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Quidditch Round 3

1. When Rita Skeeter prints a bad article about Hagrid in the Daily Prophet, which Professor teaches Hagrid's Care of Magical Creatures class while he is away?

c. Professor Grubbly-Plank

2. What was the article Rita Skeeter wrote about Hagrid called?

c. Dumbledore's Giant Mistake

3. When the school champions were being chosen from the Goblet of Fire, whose name came out first?

b. Viktor Krum

4. What is the spell Ludo bagman says to magically magnify his voice when he commentates?

a. Sonorus

5. What kind of dragon did Cedric have to face in the first task?

b. A Swedish Short-Snout

6. Who raised the trophy after winning the world cup?

b. Troy and Quigley

7. How many bedrooms did Mundungus Fletcher claim to have?

d. 12

8. For what did Moody mistake his birthday gift of a carriage clock?

b. A basilisk egg

9. What did Mr. Ollivander produce for the end of Cedric's wand?

d. Silver smoke rings

10. The dark mark is on Snape's left arm.

a. Yes

Picture Scavenger Hunt

Monday, 10 March 2008

Yarn and Bag

My poor spoilee has been a little sick this weekend, and I think that must be why she hasn't yet released pictures of the yarn and bag I sent her. I'm so proud of them I've decided to enchant some pictures of them to appear here, hoping she doesn't mind! Why am I so proud? Well, I've rarely dyed yarn myself before, and never in variegated colours. I've never spun with angel moulitngs before (properly called 'angelina'). And I've never knitted a bag before. So I'm rather excited by my results in all three areas. Given the history of how I discovered the process (documented here a few weeks ago), I made yarn labels with the 'company' name of 'Rumpelstiltskin'. Since doing this I have set up shop under that same name at the magical mall 'Etsy' where I intend to offer more of my own dyed yarns, and perhaps even some handspun, for sale. Meantime I've got a sock pattern and some spinning wheel oil for sale there.

Emma's yarn is silk, both the commercial undyed yarn I used for the green, and the fibre I used to make silver yarn (apart from the silver angelina, which while not silk is very soft and, of course, even shinier). I named the green yarn 'Salazar' after the founder of her house. The handspun silk and angelina I named 'Darke Sylver', as it was dark in colour, and followed the technique (albeit in a non-evil manner) of the nefarious dark operator, Rumpelstiltskin. I hope you can see the sparkly bits of angelina - difficult to capture in a picture. As usual, if you let your mouse nibble the picture, you'll see a Hagrid-sized version.

The bag was knitted from a pattern I found in that amazing forum for magical knitters 'Ravelry'. I really like the button I found for the side pocket which, I hope you can see, is a witches hat. There are three more pockets inside that I sewed into the lining (I love the stars - they remind me of astronomy lessons in my Hogwarts days - fortunately I have lots of the fabric left to use for future projects). This was my first go at i-cord too - attached to the pocket flap, the top of the bag, and used for the drawstring.

Thursday, 6 March 2008


Others have been posting extracts from their spell books too, and I must say, there are lots of very funny ones. However, I am a little concerned that the Hogwarts professors are not doing a very good job of teaching latin formulations for magical work. Now, when I was a young witch at Hogwarts they had us reciting latin verbs right left and centre - I still sometimes chant a few, rather like humming a favourite tune... sweet nostalgia.
It's also very exciting seeing reports about the various sock kits that folk are receiving. One girl got a very cute little crocheted owl that she's named 'Bumble' due to it's yellow and black colouring. And dear Emma has now received all her kit too, although the second owl has only just made it. Tragically the rhubarb and ginger jam and the pumpkin pickle arrived in broken jars. I'm now contemplating sending replacements with very shockproof packaging!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Extracts from my spell book!

A few jottings from my Hogwarts days. Must try some of them to see if they work!

1. Do my homework for me = Lazy witch helpus
2. Tidy up my bedroom = Lazy witch helpus morus
3. Make a delicious chocolate cake = Greedy witch feedus
4. Make my professor stay in bed today = Guilty witch shield charm
5. I would like breakfast in bed, please = Room service charm
6. Stick all my Quidditch opponents' feet to the floor = Cheating hex
7. Give everyone the giggles = ‘Snortus laughtercus’
8. Dye some yarn in my favorite color = ‘Aciae tinctus callaina’
9. Unravel the mess I've made with my yarn = Frogging charm
10. Knit my Prefect the perfect bag = ‘Saccus absolutissimus adstricus’