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The exams are over. My desk has been turned from this:

My desk

into this:

My desk

(I haven’t started sewing anything yet, which is why it’s still reasonably tidy!)

I have crafting and blogging plans aplenty. Expect to see posts with finished projects (which have been accumulating at an alarming rate), book reviews (buying craft books seems to be one of my main methods of dealing with stress) and even (maybe) a new design or two!

Knitting in public

Thanks to train cancellations and a general inability on my part to leave the house on time, I ended up catching the DLR to work yesterday morning rather than my usual train. I was also travelling slightly later than usual (see above comment about not being able to leave on time) so it was quiet enough that I could even get a seat. All of which meant that I managed to squeeze in some knitting time on my way to work.

Knitting in public

There are very strict unwritten rules of etiquette in place on the London transport system. For example: you will not make eye contact with fellow passengers; you will not attempt to converse with fellow passengers (unless you are travelling together, at which point everyone else will pretend that they can’t hear you); in fact, you will attempt at all times to pretend that your fellow passengers do not exist and that you are alone in the carriage (while also not making it difficult for your fellow passengers to pretend that you don’t exist). Exceptions are made for reading other people’s newspapers over their shoulders and glaring at people whose earphones are leaking noise into the carriage.

The fun part about knitting on public transport in London (other than the fun of the knitting itself, obviously) is that it also seems to be an exception to the rules. For instance, when I travelled regularly by Tube, I often looked up from my knitting to realise that the whole carriage was staring at my hands, apparently hypnotised by the  movement of my needles. Very occasionally, I even got into a conversation with someone about what I was knitting. However, the best bit (for me) is the (guilty) pleasure that I get from the terribly British embarrassment that some people suffer when they suddenly realise that they have been staring fixedly at a stranger’s lap for the past five minutes.

Silver linings

2011 has not started well. So far, Steven and I have both been ill, someone crashed into our car (while it was parked and empty) and I’ve broken a tooth, resulting in the need for a root canal treatment. I don’t like spreading negativity, which is why I haven’t been posting but I’m finally starting to see the silver lining in all the time that I’m spending on the couch — I’m getting lots of knitting done.

Waterlilies shawl

(I’m still working on finding the silver lining in a huge dent in the car and the root canal.)

Vintage shopping

Steven and I spent a lovely day last Saturday in Brighton. We wandered round and round and in and out of lots of little boutiques, galleries, and craft and design shops, which Brighton seems to have by the bucketload. We also hunted through lots of the antique-vintage-junk shops and came home with some interesting purchases.

I know it doesn’t look like much now (particularly in this photo) but I have big plans for this workbox. I’m going to strip it down, re-paint it, polish it up and replace the fabric lining. Once it’s done, I think it will look really good alongside the vintage sewing machine.

Vintage workbox

We haven’t decided where we’re going to hang this next find, yet. I think it would add a nice little touch of colour to our black and white bathroom and it would certainly be appropriate in there! Steven seems to be pushing for it go somewhere a bit more prominent but I’m not sure I’m up for that.

Vintage Ex-Lax advert

We also picked up a box of Christmas decorations. They are not terribly posh or fancy but they are a bit jazzier than our usual decorations and have really brightened up the tree.

Christmas baubles

Speaking of vintage decorations, look what else has found its way on to the tree this year:

Knitting Christmas decoration

Getting back on the horse

It seems to take a little longer after each exam session for life to get back to normal. I tend to go quiet (electronically speaking) at first because I’m studying so hard that there isn’t time for blogging and everything else that I do online. After the exams, it takes a while for the stress to dissipate and for me to feel like getting back on the horse. All of which is long way of saying that I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long but I’m back now!

As this is just a quick post to get me going again, here are some sneak peeks of some of the projects that I’ve been working on while I’ve been offline and that I’ll be blogging about over the coming days.





New (recycled) knitting containers

I love containers — boxes, bags, baskets, I love them all. I’m less good at the part where you actually put things in them to keep the place tidy but let us not dwell on that. I’ve recently acquired some brilliant new containers for knitting-related stuff. The containers themselves aren’t new but that is half the fun!

Recycled notions tin

This little tin originally held a miniature fruit cake. It’s the perfect size for holding knitting notions. I can fit in all my stitch markers, a packet of darning needles, my measuring tape and a reel of dental floss. These all used to live in a little zipped pouch but I find it much easier to get things out of the tin than out of the pouch.

Recycled notions tin

These bags originally held giant cushion covers but I still find it hard to believe that they weren’t originally designed for carrying knitting projects.

Recycled project bags

They are the perfect size for small or medium-sized projects, and would probably work for jumper projects up to the point where they get too big to carry around anyway. They are waterproof, have a carrying handle and even have a little inside document pocket that, while not big enough to tuck a pattern into, would certainly do for notes. I’m looking forward to packing my knitting into these for our trip back to Scotland for Christmas and New Year rather than my usual selection of plastic carrier bags!

Let the season of procrastination begin

My next set of professional exams starts in less than five weeks so I’m getting stuck into the traditional period of pre-exam procrastination. I’m frequently amazed by the things that I’ll find myself desperate to do instead of studying. As of today, I am banned from painting walls, tiling walls and re-arranging furniture (on a moving everything from one room to another and vice versa scale). This is on top of the usual bans on video games and Distributed Proofreaders. Fortunately for Steven, knitting is not banned and it turns out that I would rather sew jumper seams than study (which, considering my earlier post, shows you the lengths I will go to to avoid studying). Hence, all the seams have now been sewn on his argyll jumper and even some of the duplicate stitch started — I did try to convince him that he didn’t really need the raker lines but it didn’t work.

Argyll jumper - in progress

If he’s really lucky, I’ll even manage to get it finished before the exams start and the desperate urge to do anything other than study fades away.

Lessons I’ve learned from watching property development TV programmes

  1. It will cost more than you think.
  2. It will cost more than you have.
  3. Presenters of property programmes will usually know more about property and building than the people appearing on the show.
  4. People appearing on the show will usually ignore any and all advice given by the presenter (or their builder … or their architect).
  5. It will take longer than you think. (This is especially true if your plan is dependent on good weather … in the UK … in November.)
  6. Doing things yourself may save money but will rarely save time.
  7. Living on-site is always a Bad Idea.
  8. Not visiting the site regularly to manage contractors is a Bad Idea.
  9. There will always be a problem with the structure of the building that cannot be seen until work starts. (If it’s a period property or listed building, this will immediately double your costs and amount of time required … at least.)
  10. I will ignore any and all of the above lessons when it comes to working on my own home.

My tuppence-worth

I try to avoid politics on this blog but having spent today in a building round the corner from the Bank of England and the G20 protests I do have a couple of things that I’d like to say to some of the parties involved. Before I do, it is worth mentioning that lack of sleep and an excess of caffeine have left me a little on the grumpy side today!

Protestors – please don’t put questions on your placards. Especially ones like “Why do we have to pay?” and “How am I supposed to feed my kids?”. It took great strength of will to walk past without answering them and you really wouldn’t have liked my answers.

Bankers – if you’re wearing jeans instead of a suit to try and blend in with the protestors, you shouldn’t really wear them with expensive designer shirts, jumpers and shoes; you weren’t exactly inconspicuous.

Politicians – stopping in front of a handy camera crew to shake hands with the police officers keeping an eye on the peaceful protestors is just cheap; you know who you are.

Metropolitan Police – Operation Glencoe? Seriously? I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re just working your way through a list of Scottish glens and that this was in no way a reference to a slaughter of innocents by government forces. You can see why that might be a bad parallel to draw, right? Right?

Now that I’ve got all that off my chest, here are some pretty pictures of my walk home through Greenwich Park.

The Royal Observatory:

Royal Observatory, Greenwich

A weirdly blue-tinged view over the Maritime Museum towards Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs:


I love Spring!