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Last month Sir Michael [Sadler, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds] got really active in the city’s cultural life. He’s weaving his web, that man! First, there was that article that sent all the office buzzing a month ago. The Yorkshire Post published a recent speech he gave on girls’ schools and of course all of the girls felt they had an opinion – that’s a first for them to engage with local education news. Normally they couldn’t care less about something like this, but you see, some of them actually finished at the Leeds Girls’ High School so they all felt they have to discuss this in the ladies’ cloakroom for a week! Bless the whole chirpy lot.

They were of course all interested in the new school building and gardens that their alma mater has just purchased. Perhaps more interesting; I thought that Sir Michael, although at times perhaps a little glib, delivered a great speech invoking the spirit of historically important woman educators Hannah More and Mary Wollstonecraft.

Yorkshire Post, Wednesday, 9 October 1912Needless to say, Lucy pouted at Miss Lowe’s words about hard work being healthy, as opposed to the party season, which, as it’s been suggested, is not. To Lucy’s mind ending a Christmas party by 7pm is particularly cruel, especially when there are more mince pies and brandy butter to be had.

But back to Sir Michael, I think this speech clearly indicates that he’s a great educator, who finds the appropriate voice in a girls’ high school prize ceremony just as well as a London exhibition opening, or hobnobbing with our Northern dignitaries, who are often set in their ways a little. And there is hardly a day without his name in the paper! I set out to collect interesting clippings about the University for when I write my memoirs (just joking), but ever since he came to be the University’s Vice-Chancellor, it’s almost impossible to keep up!

Anyway, I’ll keep this one short because I got to dash and work on the shawl I’m making for my old friend, Irene. Staple crochet and knot stitch, certainly an ambitious undertaking when it gets so dark so early. I’m going to end up having to wear spectactles with all this crocheting by lamplight.

For whom Christmas is filled with sugar and spice and all things nice, instead of shopping overdose and credit card denial: read some brandy butter history in The Old Foodie blog and get your dried fruit soaking already!

And if you feel you’d like to try your hand at staple crochet, have a look at this genuine 1912 pattern. Gorgeous! Irene will no doubt like Lavvie’s gift this year!

Staple crocheted shawl

Michael Sadler, whose secretariat our fictitious Lavender is working at as a typist, was a Vice Chancellor at the University of Leeds from 1911. Last year, the very real Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds celebrated the Michael Sadler centenary with an exhibition of the Sadler Gift, all the artwork Sir Michael donated to the University of Leeds when he departed from his position in 1923.

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