The Shawl

The Yarn:

The Swatch:

and I’ve now cast on for the shawl itself and completed 1.5 of the 40 pattern repeats. I’ll need to take some pictures of the progress so far on the shawl since I made a few mistakes on the swatch and it doesn’t look nearly as good as the shawl.

Edited to add:
The Shawl:

(For the non-knitters, the dark yarn knitted on the bottom is a place-holder for the lace border that will eventually go there; my tastes are far too traditional to wear a shawl with a black border on my wedding day, unless I am genuinely in mourning!)

The yarn is fantastic to work with. It was a little ‘grabby’ when I tried to wind it so I ended up undoing a section of the skein (probably about a meter at a time) and then winding that section and then undoing the next section and winding that and so on. Amazingly this got me a better tension when winding than trying to wind continuously.

The only thing that is worrying me now is that I still have no idea how the border gets knitted on to the shawl afterwards. I keep looking at the instructions in the book and they make no sense whatsoever (why can’t lace knitting use the same terminology as ordinary knitting?). I’m also thinking that my plan of waiting until I’ve knitted the rest of the centre of the shawl and then trying to figure it out might not be the best policy. I guess I’m going to have to find some spare time and sit down with some scrap yarn and experiment.

I am loving working with the Knitpicks Options needles on this project. They’re nice and slippery, which is vital, because the yarn really isn’t. They’re also sharp enough that knitting through the backs of stitches or knitting lots of stitches together is very easy to do.

All in all, an excellent start!

What’s in a name?

I was thinking over the weekend about the implications of changing my name when Steven and I get married later in the year. Over time I have gone backwards and forwards about whether I would take my husband’s name when I got married or not. By the time we finally got around to getting married, I had pretty much decided that while I am happy to go against societal conventions, I do get fed up explaining why I am doing so to people. Hence, mainly out of laziness, I decided that I would change my name. It saves any confusion when we have children and means that I won’t have to get into complicated discussions about why I’m not Mrs. Hanlon.

One of the considerations was the fact that I don’t yet have a professional reputation to worry about. If I was more established in my career, I might have considered keeping my name professionally but at this point, it is unlikely that I will confuse anyone by changing it.

What occurred to me over the weekend though was that I have established a reputation under my maiden name, it is just an online one rather than a professional one. I am registered just about everywhere under my full maiden name: Distributed Proofreaders, Ravelry, Flickr, Facebook, Yahoo, Googlemail. Even the texts that I have submitted to Project Gutenberg are credited to my maiden name. Hundreds of people know me under a variety of usernames, all based on my maiden name. Some of these sites will let me change my userid, so I could change my name but some won’t. I also know that if I only “know” someone online, I struggle if they change their username because I have difficulty transferring the associations to the new name.

Given all this, it looks like I am going to be keeping my maiden name after all, even if only virtually!

And they’re off!

The 2008 craft marathon is off to a flying start thanks to a bout of food-poisoning that has kept me at home for a few days.

The Lace Ribbon Scarf is coming along nicely, if slowly. Here it is, roughly pinned out to show off the lace.
Lace Ribbon Scarf

The scarf is currently about 18 inches long (unstretched) and has taken an entire ball of yarn. I am hoping 3 balls of the yarn will be enough since I really want to make something for me with the other balls. I had thought that I would use the rest of the yarn to make a second scarf for me but I am not sure that I will want to knit another one straightaway, although, it looks so pretty that I am sure I will make more eventually!

I’ve got a couple of the origami wreaths done for Christmas cards:
Origami Wreaths

These three only took a single evening to fold so I should be able to get the rest done in plenty of time for Christmas. I still need to practise varnishing them and attaching them to cards though.

Finally, the wedding table centrepieces are coming along. We bought a couple more vases and the proper paper arrived.


There are currently 9 flowers folded in the left-hand vase in the picture, so nearly two centrepieces’ worth. Which reminds me, I really should check with the venue just how many tables there are going to be!

A philosophy for planning a wedding

Lists are good; short lists are better; short-lists are best.

Research and preparation are key for this one. I am not suggesting you short-list the first options that you come across. Take your time and make sure that your short-list has enough options on it that you do not feel like you might be missing something but not so many that it stops being short. Do not go visit every wedding venue in the country, check out websites and brochures, make a short-list (we only visited 6 venues in person) and, unless they really are not suitable, book one of them. If you really do not like any of them, start a new short-list. Do not keep visiting lots of venues, trying on lots of dresses, listening to bands, etc. ”just in case there is a better one out there”.

Like sex, if you are not having fun, you are not doing it right.

I am guilty of forgetting this myself sometimes but when it comes right down to it, planning a wedding should be fun. If you are not having fun, think about why not and see if you can do something about it.

Pick what is important to you and budget accordingly.

Unless you are very lucky, you are not going to be able to afford to spend unlimited sums of money on every aspect of your day, so decide which ones you are not willing to compromise on. Maybe you really want fantastic photographs but wouldn’t mind a cheaper cake; maybe you want a 5-star chef to cook for your guests but don’t mind not having live music.

Perfection is not the goal!

I am not suggesting you settle for second best or that you should not strive to get your day exactly the way you want it. Just remember that the day is about celebrating the commitment that you’re making and not about the exact colour of the bridesmaids’ dresses. Sometimes you just need to remember to let go of the reins for a while.

Elope! (or at least think about it)

This is not as silly a suggestion as it might seem. If planning is all getting a bit too much, you can always fantasise about running off and having a quiet ceremony, just the two of you and some witnesses. If it really all gets too much, then go ahead and do it! You can still have the big reception afterwards to let everyone else celebrate with you but it will ease a lot of the pressure. Your families should start speaking to you again eventually.

Keep information on a need-to-know basis.

Families (and friends) love playing Chinese whispers around wedding preparations. What you thought were perfectly innocuous statements will be taken completely out of context, exaggerated beyond all belief and you will end up spending lots of time trying to placate angry family members over things that are not even a problem in the first place. The best time to tell people what you are thinking of doing for any particular aspect of your day is when it is already booked and can not possibly be changed.

Paper flowers …

… coming soon to a wedding near you?

A little while ago, I spotted some beautiful origami table decorations for a wedding over on the Style Me Pretty blog. Being me, I saw the decorations and immediately thought, “I can do that”, despite not having done any origami for years!

Since it’s a typical rainy bank holiday Monday, Steven and I spent this morning folding flowers.


We’ve been experimenting with different styles and different ways of displaying them and think we may finally have hit upon our favourite combination.



All we need now are some pretty vases and the patience to fold many dozen more identical flowers!

Edited to add – Looks like we might have found the vases:

“Sorry, I forgot our anniversary”

In some relationships, the above statement could cause all sorts of problems and recriminations.

Not us. Nope, both Steven and I managed to forget that yesterday was our 10 year anniversary. That’s right, not any old anniversary, our 10 year anniversary.

This didn’t really come as a surprise to either of us given our track record for remembering our anniversary. At one point it got so bad that we had to get a calendar out and work out which day it must have been (so far we can still remember the year). This in turn led to its own problems; could we remember which of the James Bond films had we been to see that day? We’ve now agreed to agree that it must have been “You Only Live Twice”.

I’m hoping that getting married will solve the anniversary problem. Given the number of times that I’ve already had to tell people that date, I’m pretty sure it’s going to stick in my head for a while. Just don’t ask me when we got engaged.

The dying art of customer service

Everyone knows that people in London are rude and unfriendly because the city’s just too big and crowded but should the same really apply to those working in customer service?

This is a topic that’s very close to my heart at the moment. Between organising a wedding and renovation work on our new flat, as well as the actual purchase of the flat, I averaged about two phone calls to suppliers per day last week. That’s not including several emails that I sent out and one written letter. The standard of response that I received varied wildly. Blackburn Bridal in Blackheath are currently at the top of the hall of shame for not replying to either an email or an answering machine message and then being advertised the next day in a bridal blog that I subscribe to with the suggestion that interested brides should email or phone for an appointment! Only a very short distance behind at number two are MFI. You’d think the fact that I’m planning to spend several thousand pounds on a fitted kitchen would be enough to get me an appointment with a salesperson but two phone calls to their ‘appointments’ line later, still no appointment. Add to this list various kitchen fitters and a snooty assistant at Berketex who tried to tell me that trying on dresses 9 months before my wedding is ‘leaving it a bit late’ and I’m less than impressed.

On the other hand, I’ve also had some fantastic service. Our plumber, as always, has been an absolute star in terms of replying to voicemail messages and putting up with me and the estate agent rearranging appointments left, right and centre. I only hope that his final quote makes me as happy as his service so far. Pantiles Bridal in Tunbridge Wells were also fantastic, replying to an email that I sent faster than I thought was possible. We couldn’t arrange a mutually convenient appointment but that’s my fault rather than theirs.

Finally, a weekend in Scotland went some way towards restoring my faith in the service industry. I can highly recommend Falkirk taxi drivers as friendly and extremely helpful. The reception staff at Airth Castle Hotel (where we were attending a friend’s wedding) were also great. (The waiting staff were a different matter but they were just incompetent rather than rude.)

If not for the great job that our conveyancing solicitors have been doing so far, I’d have had to conclude that good service is only available outside of London.

Anyway, I’m still looking for a reasonably priced, reliable kitchen fitter covering the south-east of London so any recommendations will be gratefully received!

Back in the land of the living…

..or back online, anyway. Apologies to those of you who were worried by my prolonged absence from my usual online haunts. A lack of internet access whilst visiting relatives over Christmas followed by a vast quantity of Things Needing Done Now when I got back home meant that I just haven’t had time or energy to spend online. Things are getting back under control now though so I’m starting to work my way back in.

The good news is that we’ve made progress with planning and organising on both the house-buying and wedding front. We’re nearly ready to exchange contracts on the flat (at which point the sale becomes legally binding!), have agreed a completion date (when we actually get the keys!) and have started organising tradesmen for the work that needs done. We’ve booked a photographer for the wedding and I’ve arranged some dress appointments and even already tried some on. There’s still a lot to do on both fronts but at least it feels like we’re moving forwards.

Finally, before I forget, Happy New Year!