Wednesday, 18 March 2020

WI in March

This will be my last WI post for the foreseeable future as National Federation have advised no more meetings for a while - to protect all members and speakers- many are elderly.
I hope they (NFWI) decide to let us off some of next years membership subscription to make up for all the meetings we will miss! 

 Big WI don't meet in January and Small WI just watched an old film (not my idea of what a WI meeting should be). Then in February I was looking after Willow one evening and later in the month extremely tired so missed those meetings too. Finally got to both meetings this month.............

Big WI had Edwina Hughes from Norfolk who came to tell us about dyeing using natural materials. She had become interested in this several years ago and decided to finish working and go to Art College in Norwich to learn more about textiles, dyeing and print.
She told us how dyes can vary even using the same materials. Depending on time of year they are picked and even what side of the tree leaves come from. There are also big variations dyeing wool, cotton or silk and the mordant (Fixing the dye) can be alum, copper or rhubarb which also changes the end colour.
 She had sample books from her college days showing all these differences. She told us about all sorts of things used for dyeing in the past and how if  scraps of material are found in archaeological excavations it is often now possible to find out what plant was used to dye the material.
She has been invited to take part in Agricultural shows where they show how wool goes from sheep to clothes....all in one day........... which she says will be an interesting experience.
When her brother died two years ago she planned to sell up their family farm but has decided to start a new venture on some of the fields growing dye plants and drying and packing them to sell.
Next day I searched my shelves for an old book about Natural Dyeing which I knew I had so I could read more but then remembered I had sent it off to another blogger - although I can't remember who?

At first glance Small WI's meeting sounded boring. A speaker (not sure of his name as it was Latvian, although he was born in this country) talking about the life and poetry of Rudyard Kipling. But I know from past experience it's often more about the speaker than the subject. The man had been a teacher before retiring and got interested in Kipling many years ago, he has given this talk lots of times so was able to speak for 45 minutes without um-ing and eh-ing at all. Far from being boring it was very interesting.
All I knew about Kipling was The Jungle Book (much used in Cub-Scouting) the poem IF which was once voted The Nation's Favourite poem and the fact that he had many famous friends and relatives.
But he was an interesting person. Very well traveled and VERY prolific,as a journalist he turned out articles, short stories, longer novels and poems by the dozen every year.  At one time, while in Africa his bank failed and he lost all his money but later, back in the UK he became very rich and was able to afford £9,000 back in the 1902 to buy the house Batemans in Sussex - now a National Trust property.
During the first world war, he used his influence to get his son into the army - despite his son being turned down because of poor eyesight. When John was killed after just 2 days of battle Kipling blamed himself and never really recovered from it.
The speaker made us smile when he said that after talking to one  WI one of the members said "what a shame my husband can't be here as he is an expert on Kipling". The speaker said he was glad the husband wasn't there as he doesn't claim to be an expert - just  interested and admiring  of Kipling's poetry and life - he said knowing there was an expert in the audience would have terrified him!

No WI and no East Suffolk WI quiz next month which is a shame as they are good fun, no swimming, no church visiting, no boot sales,  and I'm worried about running out of ideas for blog posts. They'll end up all being  books-I've-read posts!
But I will keep blogging, it's something we can do to connect with other people without risk.

So Definitely Back Tomorrow


  1. Hi Sue, it is such a shame that W.I. has stopped as meetings are a lifeline to many and can be fun. My fathers favourite poem was “If” by Rudyard Kipling and we had it read at his funeral. I think he was fond of it because it was his father’s favourite too.
    I have been tied up as Chairman of my choir with cancelling rehearsals and concerts, emergency committee meetings to organise to pay pianists while we are not singing and sorting out insurances. All boring but vital if we are to continue after this all goes away. Also setting up a private Facebook group for choir members to keep in touch and keep the spirits up.
    Hopefully we will be able to be in the garden regularly soon. Did you see that the National Trust is allowing free access to gardens and parks? That should help people get exercise but not mix closely.
    I am self isolating with my husband and need to get a regular schedule organised for cleaning, resting and relaxation. My plan for today is cleaning the downstairs cloakroom and kitchen and then some knitting.

  2. I wonder if societies with a lot of older members will survive this crisis? Our horticultural society will have to cancel meetings and certainly the spring show. As most of the members seem to be over seventy, I wonder who would have the will and the energy to start it up again? Not me, for sure. This is sad but seems inevitable, just another casualty of events those of us born after the war have never had to deal with before.

  3. How about a quiz as a blog post? If people write their answers on a piece of paper rather than posting them... Then they can check when you post the answers! I'm enjoying Richard Osman's House of Games on TV. Delightfully silly.

  4. I like Kirsten's idea! Need something to keep my brain ticking over and stopping me cheating by looking up the starter word in my Codeword book!!

    The Kipling talk sounded very interesting. He must have been destroyed by the sense of causing his son's death . . . Batemans is somewhere I would love to visit.

    I would have LOVED that talk on Dyeing too. It's something I keep saying, I'd love to do that, but apart from brief experiments with Elderberries (reverts to a dirty grey!), onions and Goldenrod, I am still threatening to do it!

  5. It's sad about the WI, but inevitable in the current crisis. As it's a strong organisation it should be able to weather this storm and pick up where it left off when things are back to normal, hopefully. I did watch a TV drama about Kipling a few years ago, so knew about his son (who was played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter)). It gave me the impression that he bullied his son into joining the WW1 as he didn't want to go. Just a little snippet, did you know that the Kipling bags (I have several) were named after Rudyard Kipling and the gorilla bag emblem is from The Jungle Book?

  6. Everything has more or less shut down here too Sue/

  7. I've been to Batemans - twice, I think. It's a really lovely place and the mill is fascinating. I'd go again like a shot if I were that way.

  8. Sorry about WI meetings. The natural dyeing talk sounds really interesting. I think I did this for a science project when my children were in school. I also did a little bit when I was dyeing my own cross stitch material. It's interesting the colours things turn out. I might give it a go again one day - add it to the list of things I'd like to do lol.

    Hope you enjoy your day.

  9. Thank goodness we cannot catch anything from online browsing...yet!! xx

  10. Please try to keep blogging Sue even if only to tell us what you had for your dinner!!! I am 75 so trying my best to self isolate so will need to catch up with my favourite bloggers.

  11. I dyed a few crop tops that had gone an off white with turmeric and am now the proud possessor of very bright yellow tops which are colour fast. I'm now looking round for anything else that would be improved by yellowness.

  12. David joined in his usual monday night quiz via messenger on his friends phone. Worked well, looks like they are going to all join in by phone from their own homes next week

  13. We are doing our History of Art class via Zoom tomorrow. A first for all of us, including teacher. I have loaded the app and will try! We should be able to see each other and hear each other. Life is changing in many ways!

  14. I started a list of things I could do around home (instead of going out) and it is still growing!

  15. I enjoyed hearing about these two meetings although I can understand them shutting down for the moment. I've always been interested in natural dyeing and that talk sounds quite good. The second talk sounds good too as Kipling was an interesting person.

    You are such an excellant blogger and writer I'm sure you will come up with many subjects. Even just discussing your daily activities and thoughts is helpful to others as we are all in this new situation together and our sharing can be reassuring to us all.

  16. Hi Sue, I've only recently discovered your blog and am loving reading it. I live in rural mid-Wales where WI is a lifeline and until last October was federation chairman, then stepped down as a trustee after 8 years. I think it was inevitable that WIs would have to postpone meetings given the fact that the main demographic is in the elderly & vulnerable group (I am myself - just!) There'd be nothing to stop WIs meeting more than once a month when the situation calms down - even if it's just a social get-together to swap stories or an informal quiz so members can learn something! I've always found that if a speaker's talk sounds as though it will be boring it proves otherwise. My worst WI meeting was when members watched one person have her feet "done" during a reflexology session. I intend to sew, knit and get into the garden which needs a revamp - looks as though it will get it now. Good luck, keep blogging!

  17. An interesting subject the dyeing.
    I think we will all need a bit of blog reading to keep us going in the next few weeks. Just to keep in touch is nice.

  18. Natural dying is so interesting and the possibilities are endless. I was at a yarn festival 2 years ago and met add her whom had dyed a skein with local lichen, it was the lovliest shade of Lavender....of course I bought it.

  19. Met a dyer who..... Crazy auto words

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