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Friday, 11 February 2011


Note - only one hand is shown as the other was occupied with the camera!

Yesterday I went up to London to meet a friend and to see the Evolving English exhibition at the British Library. I went by coach - a two and three quarter hour ride with nothing to do other than look at the passing scenery. Lovely, and how I relished the time spent just sitting and letting my mind wander something I rarely allow to happen normally. I noticed my hands resting in my lap and I got to thinking about hands in general and mine in particular. As you will see my hands are not going to win any awards nor will I be offered a job as a hand model (unless it is for the "before" picture) but they have served me well. These hands have peeled thousands of potatoes, typed millions of letters, cleaned up all sorts of things, knitted dozens of garments, lifted numerous cups of tea, planted hundreds of plants .....

They have expressed love, support, pointed out directions, clapped to show my appreciation of lots of performances both professional and otherwise, soothed many a fevered brow, changed many a dirty nappy, picked thousands of flowers held many hands both as a gesture of love and to protect from danger, they have even smacked on occasion!

No two pairs of hands are the same - every one is different and unique to the individual, there are long delicate fingered hands, strong workmanlike hands, those with carefully manicured nails and those with nails bitten to the quick as well as ones whose nails are filled with dirt/oil etc. There are hands with smooth silky skin, hands with weatherbeaten skin, white, brown or black. We can and do judge a person by their hands and if an opinion can be made within a few seconds of seeing a person's face then it can also be made when looking at hands. Hands cannot be concealed and are on view all the time along with the face - we used them to pay for things, to reach out for things. They give us feedback on so many things too - ever felt impelled to touch something? It might be the rough bark of a tree, the smooth texture of polished wood or glass, the softness of cashmere or the hard stiff feel of hessian. Seeing may be important but feeling is also very necessary if one is to know the quality of something isn't it? I wonder if you have ever thought of what miracles they are and wondered how we could manage without them - I don't think I had. I was nearly at Hammersmith by the time I had thought all this!

The exhibition was very interesting and I discovered things about our language which I hadn't realised before. We spent a couple of hours looking at everything and I wished I hadn't taken only my bi-focals as I found it difficult to read some of the exhibits (memo to self - take reading glasses as well next time) Lunch was good too and we got the last portions of soup left along with some good bread before returning to the exhibition for another look.

The British Library has some fantastic books in its collection including the Sherborne Missal an amazing book weighing 42 pounds and made in the 1400s and with magnificent art work. This book comes from Sherborne just down the road from here and I have to admit that I had never heard of it in spite of the fact that I went to school in the town (not in the 1400s of course!) There were other beautiful ancient books too from all over the world and I couldn't help thinking that the Kindle would probably not survive 600 years nor be anything like as interesting to any future generations if it did!

Thank you for your kind comments on my previous post and for those who asked about the pattern for the hearts it was from a Woman's Weekly magazine many years ago and I reproduce it here - if you can't read it let me know and I will type it out for you. Joy I do have some old patterns for knitted bikinis - not that I ever made one - but this one would be a bit teeny wouldn't it?!!

Have a good weekend.


  1. So pleased to hear that you had an interesting visit to the exhibition. Loved reading your thoughts on hands. Have a good weekend. I will be in Sherborne tomorrow! Lizzie x

  2. That exhibition sounds really good. Very interesting post re hands - thanks! Have a good weekend!

  3. Jane, I love the piece on hands. My hands are much older than my age and I have to say I am proud of them. I am a gardener.....I do not wear gloves, I love to be in contact with all that surrounds me.

    Your hands tell a story.....I like what they say. Yes, I would judge you on your are my sort of person without a doubt......

    Have a lovely weekend

  4. I have had 'old ladies' hands since I was a six year old! I can remember being teased about them even now. However my hands have done wonderful things and I certainly miss not being able to use them on my musical instruments at the realise how precious your hands are when they are sore!

    Sounds like you had a wonderful day in London - give me a book any day!

  5. Lovely post Jane, so enjoyed your thoughts on hands! :)
    I have to agree about the Kindle, I'm afraid I really don't see the attraction myself!
    Thanks for sharing you heart pattern!
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Vivienne x

  6. great post, got me looking at my hands! glad you had a grand day out too.

  7. Your hands have served you well! I think they deserve a pamper with a relaxing hand massage! I have never been to the British Library. I think it something else for me to include on my 'to do' list.

  8. An interesting post about hands, I've never really thought about how much they've done. Got me thinking about my feet now as well, how many steps they must have walked so far and how many more they have to go. I also agree about the Kindle, I would much prefer to have an actual book in my hands that I can touch, smell and turn the pages with my hands. Imagine if you had all your books on the kindle and then someone spilled coffee on it and it no longer worked! All the books gone in one go! Have a great weekend! :) x

  9. I sometimes look at my hands and think surely they can't be mine! Sigh, but they are. Still, as long as they work, I am very happy with them.
    Afterthought - after a nice soak in the bath, they always look ten years younger......... why doesn't that work for the rest of me??

  10. So agree about Kindle - it'll never replace books in this house, we've too many that are too obscure or long out of date to ever feature in a downloadable list! My hands now look just like my mother's right down to the slightly bent finger on the right one that wasn't there a few years ago. Glad you had a such a nice day.

  11. I've got to 'hand' it to you Jane, that was an interesting piece about hands. Mine are in a shocking state, comes of years of washing them countless times in a day and expecting one application of cream at night time to sort it all out.

    Looking forward to seeing you model the knitted bikini when it's finished!

    Happy weekend x

  12. What an interesting topic Jane. I absolutely agree. I'm afraid I'm always touching things I shouldn't just to feel them and my poor old hands are very neglected. I can't stand hand cream - the feel is just too greesy for me and I guess our climate does not really dry them out like cold weather seems to. I just let them be - they are what they are - though I sometimes look down and get a shock, wonder how they got to look OLD !!
    Kindles around in 100 years time? - no way. Will people even read then or will everything they "read" come through headphones. I couldn't bear to be without my nightime read before sleep.

  13. Wish I would check my spelling before I hit that button !!

  14. LOL! Well, glad to hear it was not the beginning of a bikini... people really have crocheted swimsuits--I can't imagine that they would wear them again after seeing what they looked like coming out of the water... oh, but your post here on hands was wonderful! You brought up many things I hadn't thought of. I always think how devastated I'd be if I couldn't use my hands for the computer anymore!

  15. P.S. You always get to do such fun and interesting things in life!

  16. hands are handy! I used to love going to the NSW state library when i was a kid, they have all the original ledgers and journals of captain cook, and many others, i can only imagine the history in the british library, wonderful!

  17. Your post on hands makes for a great deal of thought. When I broke my shoulder about 18 months ago I found all the things I couldn't do one handed - peel a potato, wash up, tie laces, knit or sew. Even holding a book was a weight! Mine have got bent and knobbly with wear and tear but - they've spent a lot of time getting to that stage!
    Kindle - yuck!! Books rule OK!

  18. Thanks for the pattern Jane. I saved the pic and viewed it at 200% and then I could read it. Would love to know the details for the large heart too, though...

    Off to make one straight away!

    PS My hands are blotchy, wrinkly and getting lumpier day by day...

  19. Such a beautiful post.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

    Nina x

  20. What a delightful post Jane - I love reading your thoughts. My grandmother's hands always fascinated me, with their tranlucent skin and creased palms, and as I grow older mine grow to be more and more like hers.

  21. My hands are invariably chapped and split at this time of year. I also have a very bent little finger due to trapping it in a door when I was a teenager. I was too squeamish to get it stitched! Coach journeys are so "freeing" aren't they? I love being able to see things from "high up" and just muse at people's gardens etc.............. The exhibition sounds interesting.

  22. What a wonderful and interesting post. Like you I have never really thought about mine, except to notice the wrinkles and the stubby fingernails that never seem to grow properly. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Dev x

  23. There was a very busy working actress years ago in Australia who told the story that directors told her that she often got parts because her hands looked real. Other actresses' were too well manicured.

  24. This is lovely. Hands do tell our story, don't they?

  25. Jane,
    This is such a lovely post. I really enjoyed the musing about the hands and it set me thinking about the same, giving mine the once over at the same time. Sadly, I have Cathy's problems too as mine are sore and chapped at present. Somebody told me it was because I eat a lot of oranges and they can have that effect on some people! Who knows? My hands are very 'utilitarian' but I love my husband's hands. They are very graceful, something I can only aspire to be! Lesley x

  26. I am dabling with the concept of growing my nails and trying to not chew them so much... but I think as I drift towards 40 my hands deserve a treat of more hand cream and less abuse... lol
    I have to admit my hands are much like yours in the diversity of uses although the quantities may well be less... ;D
    I am not as touchy feely as some people I have met.. I do however appreciate a suportive gesture and know when the gesture is best returned... its a package deal with me though... I like to look a person in the eye... smile and take their hand in greeting.. x

  27. What a though-provoking post. I had been bemoaning that my age-spots were now creeping up my wrist, but I feel a whole lot better about them now!

  28. Wow - thank you for giving me reason to like my hands, not feel miserable about them! Like so many of the other commenters, mine are rather beat-up. I remember one handsome black pupil (aged 6, I think) staring at my red, wrinkled and sometimes cracked hands in horrified amazement. His hands were so perfect and I expect his mum's were, too.

    When I did my hand-outline embroideries for Christmas, some of them in memory of my mum, I discovered something rather strange. A 'perfect' hand has a very dull outline. A gnarled or muscular hand is far more interesting.

    Thanks for your comments - I've really appreciated my time off but have had a good time coming back too!

  29. Thanks for the pattern Jane, I've done crochet hearts but never knitted!
    P.S. your hands are beautiful :) x

  30. I love your post about hands. Hands are not oftyen written about and are very often overlooked. You are so right about making judgements based on people's hands. I tend to notice people's hands and I would agree that they can say quite a bit about the person.
    I like your hands, they very much remind me of my Mother's hands :-)
    The exhibition that you went to sounded very interesting!
    Isabelle x

  31. What a delightful post. I have many drawings of my left hand. Why? because my art tutor said if you have nothing to draw, draw your left hand, so while in doctors waiting rooms I have drawn my hands and sometimes, one of my shoes LOL


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