Monday, 30 May 2011

Arthur got a new home ...

... and I got a crafty nook!

All thanks to the joys of modern technology. This cramped corner used to contain my PC and MrK's was roughly where I stood to take the photo. Our poor guests used to crash on a nasty old futon at the other end of the room. Well, now we're a 0 PC/2 laptop household there is no need for permanent desks in an 'office'. Ridcully the cat thinks it's ace that I can update the blog from the sofa, he doesn't care his presence makes occasional typos and misclicks.

MrK and I have spent the day sorting out the junk and hoovering like mad (if dust is mostly skin cells it's a wonder we haven't disappeared). I commandeered the bookcase and dining table and after much rummaging some kind of order was brought to crafty chaos.

You know going through my stuff has made me realise my habit of buying extra bias binding 'in case' and always getting thread to match fabric I'm stashing might need reviewing. Also my yarn and fabric stashes really aren't that big. They're quite restrained really. Look - on the right, my fabric stash only fills one and a half sections of bookcase (ignoring the bags and bags of scraps, fat quarters and old clothes I'd like to hack about). And the two boxes on top are yarn; theyre quite big boxes I'll admit but I've just been to my MIL's place and I reckon she could stuff all the mattresses in their four bedroom house with yarn and still have some left. So two boxes is pretty good.

Oh and I spent almost all of yesterday on my skirt which is going much better now, hurrah!

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Arthur's Odd Facts #1

Did you know that when in flight a collective noun for a group of geese is 'skein'?

No I didn't either but Arthur says, so it must be true. That's pretty cool.

Friday, 27 May 2011


Well my skirt's not going great. :(

I have a little pouchy belly ...

**Intermission for the purposes of clarification - I'm not saying I'm fat at all. If I said that several of my friends would lock me in a box and force feed me pies. But a little belly is an inescapable feature of my figure. That is all.**

... and the muslin of my skirt is really doing unflattering things with that belly and I cannot see a way to solve the problem. Now I'm stuck a little because there seem to be two options here:

1) A-line skirts are fundamentally not going to work well on me. I need to give up and find another shape for my skirts.
2) There is some miraculous pattern magic way to fix this that I just happen to not know.

But as I don't really have any A-line skirts in my wardrobe I can't prove or disprove 1) and the basic problem with 2) is I don't know whether there's something I don't know! ARGH!

It's disheartening because I was so fired up and buzzing with ideas and this was going to be my perfect skirt (yeah that should have been my warning sign there - perfect? ha!) and going to be the basis for more skirt shaped fun in the future. And now it's made me feel crappy. Boo.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A simple A-line skirt

I have decided to make myself a very simple A-line skirt from this gorgeous purple linen:

I've made two similar skirts in the past and neither is perfect so this time I'm making a muslin and adjusting the pattern so that I'll have a good basis for more elaborate skirts in the future. It will have some basic embellishment (buttons maybe?) and will probably be lined but otherwise it couldn't be simpler - two seams, one zip and four darts. Bingo. I really love the rich colour of the fabric too which will look great with turquiose and navy blue spangly bits, plus I have 2.4 metres which means I should have plenty left over afterwards.

The basic pattern is one I made aeons ago following Cal Patch's instructions in 'Design It Yourself Clothes'. I like the book on the whole, although as usual with sewing books her style is very different from mine and requires some imagination on my part to visualise how it would look in my kinda fabrics etc. That's cool, I can do imagination. My only niggle would be that the patterns would not fit a large (or probably even average) busted woman - luckily I'm not, but blouses without darts? Even I like a bust dart in a blouse and I'm a B cup. So if you're small chested it's worth a look, if not ... then you might still like the skirts and trousers but expect to be disappointed with the blouses, dresses and jackets.

Monday, 23 May 2011

A long and difficult love affair

I have had a long and complicated relationship with colour, and especially colour and clothes, and lately Project Spectrum has made me think about it. I've always loved colour, especially rich, saturated colour. From what I recall, as a shy, self-effacing girl I didn't really wear colour in a particularly adventurous way in my teens (though I did have a slightly hippyish thing going on) but then I took a gap year in Namibia, living in the township I got used to standing out, being the white European girl. Standing out ceased to be a scary thing and when I came back I was freshly confident in my grungy sandals that had hitched round southern Africa and my jangly anklet I got from Cape Town and my bright purple sarong. I bought clothes just because I loved the colour, deliberately clashed because it was fun and enjoyed the sideways glances. ('Yeah fuck you normal person I'm hip and colourful and don't give a shit what you think.' I see teenagers doing the same thing now and have to supress a grin of recognition.)

Then I went off to uni and became known for being colourful. My best friend would introduce me like this; 'this is Maythe do you know her?' 'no' they would say 'oh you do, she's the girl with the rainbow hat' 'oh that's you is it? cool!' they would answer. I went to a small uni so most people really would have seen me around somewhere, or at least most of the people we were likely to be friendly with. I wore purple PVC snakeskin trousers and an orange top with BANG! on it in red letters and hung around with goths and metallers. But you know, I didn't dress like that the whole time. I wore jeans a lot and black jumpers and black DM's. It's just even if I wore that I had the rainbow hat stuck on top and rainbow laces in the DMs. When I was feeling shy or upset or having a hard time (which I always try to avoid expressing - I'm a bottle it up and internally combust kinda person) I would hide behind it 'Look at the COLOUR don't look at me, the HAT is more interesting than me I'm quite boring really, look COLOUR!' Until perhaps I became a bit of a caricature of myself at times.

After uni I did the whole growing up thing, realised at some point orange tights with green fish from the kids department looked firkin ridiculous on a grown woman, lost my way a bit, got depression, got into a job where I wear combats, fleeces and big boots all day, turned 30, recovered from depression and gradually found myself again. At some point in this process I looked back and noticed how I'd used colour as a shield/mask throughout uni and as a result lost confidence in dressing colourfully though I'd sometimes still wear one colourful thing, with a lot of black or denim, or I'd have an awkward burst of colourfulness in an attempt to feel like myself again. Recently though I've been fumbling my way back to colourful, expressive  dressing, rediscovering the fun that colourful dressing gave me in my late teens and early twenties, while bringing in an adult appreciation that flattering styles are a good thing too and a shapeless rainbow coloured jumper is still a shapeless jumper. And, I hope, not hiding behind colour anymore.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Project Spectrum

I've recently dicovered a whatjamacallit called Project Spectrum.

I'm not sure it's a blog meme really because it all started on Ravelry with people working on crafty projects of a particular colour at a particular time. It's expanded, apparently I'm a latecomer, both to the idea in general which has been going for five years, and to this incarnation which started at the beginning of May. I will be focussing on one colour per month, along with other Project Spectrummers and will post pics of things of that colour, maybe work on knitting or a sewing project in that colour, cook things of that colour and generally have fun with the colour of the month. The colour for May is Red/Orange.

 As a lover of colour the idea has immense appeal so here goes... Are you ready for some colour?

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Blog Revamp Shenanigans (and Arthur)

Yay! Look I revamped my blog. It's all shiny and orange and purple. I get that that may not be a colour combo that makes everyone jump with joy but, whatever, it's my blog and I'll clash if I want to.

And look, as if by magic we have an Arthur.

I was going to call him Alfred after King Alfred the Great but no, he wants to be Arthur. Arthur originally came into my life as a 'Paint Your Own Gnome' kit (recommended age 5-10) courtesy of my sister. She knows me so well. He was carrying a watering can which became beer (it's a good real ale - he has excellent taste in beer) and a packet of crisps:
He's Heathen of course and his runic ring carries the Anglo-Saxon blessing 'Alu' which coincidentally means 'ale'. Those Anglo-Saxons knew a good blessing when they found one.

So, what do you think? Love it? Hate it? Think Arthur should kick me out and take over the blog first, then the world?

Monday, 16 May 2011


I'm going to be moving the furniture about in here in the near future. There'll be a shiny new header, assuming I can work the technological thingamyjig wotsit, and some new wordy bits and a new friend will be joining us.

So if I don't post much in the next week or so it's because I'm fiddling away behind the scenes busily. That or I got bored and went off to play Oblivion. One of the two.

Friday, 13 May 2011

More Yarn. Oh noes!

Sorry if you couldn't give a shit about yarn and come here for my deep philosophical insights and laugh-a-minute humour but this is another post about yarn. Why yes I have been buying a lot recently. No, no particular reason and yes we can still afford to pay the mortgage. And the yarn stash still fits in its apportioned space as well so take your grousing elsewhere.

I have been on something of a lace-weight lust trip since last weekend's knitting group meeting at which I bought the lovely yarn from Mara. There was some laceweight for sale (not Mara's, though I have an uneasy feeling in my bank balance that she'll be doing some soon) and I kind of wanted to buy some but none of it was 'me' colours. I don't do pastels. The items of clothing in my wardrobe that can reasonably be described as 'pastel' can be counted on one hand and get worn once in a blue moon and probably not then either. And all this yarn was pastel (what was that? knit for someone else? pfft no) or near enough to pastel. I have not been able to get rid of the urge to buy laceweight yarn since.

And then Ann went and linked to a new online yarn store she'd found called Violet Green. And they had laceweight. In 'me' colours. In lots of 'me' colours. Oh dear. I reckon I could sink a couple of hundred quid there with ease. At least. And then today guess what came in the post?

But at least there's only one.

And here's a pic of my cat Ridcully for all you people who think pictures of yarn are boooooring:

If you hate yarn and cats what the feck are you doing reading my blog?

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Joy of Socks

Back in the dim, dark days before I discovered the joy of socks I felt it seemed a bit pointless to spend many, many hours knitting a pair of socks when I could buy socks from M&S.

Then I considered that perhaps it was worth learning to knit socks as I would learn to knit in the round on double pointed needles, a frightening looking prospect from the newbie perspective, akin to rubbing your tummy and patting the top of your head, only with more pointy sticks. Also there were short rows and kitchener stitch to learn so all in all it seemed it might be worth knitting, you know, one pair of socks before using those skills to make more worthwhile items like fingerless gloves and such. So I bought a ball of sock yarn and matching needles and stashed them for a while.

Then one day I had the strange urge to knit tiny tiny stitches on little needles and so I fished out my sock yarn, found a beginner sock pattern (the Yarn Harlots' 'Sock Recipe' from Knitting Rules), cast on and So It Began. For me the joy of socks is not that hand knitted socks are infinitely superior to bought ones (they're nicer, sure, but not 30 hours of work nicer, knitting heresy I know) it's the process; the repetitive neat little stitches, the cleverness of the turning of the heel and the way the toe shrinks down at the end. It's so calm. I've only made three pairs so far, all plain top-down, stockinette stitch easy-as-pie socks. Maybe I'll branch out into lacy socks like the lovely ones my friend Ann designs (I've seen a preview of one of her upcoming designs which is very tempting) but will I lose the meditative zen-like feeling amongst all the yarn overs and k2togs?

Maybe. But I can always have a plain sock on the go alongside the fancier footwear and then in moments of knitting crisis I can just turn to the certainties of small knit stitches on small needles; simple, calm and strangely beautiful.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Less about Gods, More about Yarn.

Oh dear look what happened:

I started Lanesplitter. Who'da thunk it?

Oh and I may have bought some yarn from Mara:

I'm thinking I can rock purple and orange stripes. Hat and cowl set maybe. Or I may have enough, once I bring in another skein I succumbed to another time, for a purple tank top with orange details. Hmm...  I think Oonabaloona's wardrobe pics have made me feel the need for more colour!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Why am I a Polytheist?

In a monotheist society (in which even the Atheists don't believe in God, singular) how does anyone find themselves believing as a polytheist? I mean even supposedly polytheist Neo-Pagans often turn out to be soft polytheists (or inclusive monotheists) who believe the gods are facets of one ultimate deity. In fact one well known book by respected Wiccan authors informs its readers that all Pagans believe the gods are facets of Deity, yes even those pesky Asatruar with their insistence they're proper polytheists. 

For me belief tends to be firstly emotional and secondly a rational thing, backed up with religious experience, the latter of which I find flimsy in my head. I have wavering self confidence and when that is at low ebb I find believing in anything difficult, even such blatantly obvious things such as whether MrK really loves me, so the numinous disappears completely for me at those times. It's good for me to have a logical (to me anyway) reason to believe the way I do, as well as 'religious' reasons.

My immediate family as I grew up were non-religious with my wider family being either non-religious or not particularly enthusiastic Christians (with a couple of exceptions). Mum and Dad both take religion seriously, they just don't believe. Mum caused great offence by refusing to be a god parent (which would involve standing in a church and promising to help bring the child up as a Christian when she intended no such thing) and my Dad who, when he finds himself in church for any reason, doesn't bow his head in prayer but instead uses the opportunity to examine the architecture. For them the options seem to be belief (which automatically entails Christianity) or non-belief and it took me a long time to realise there were other options out there. The biggest thing I got from them I think is that I take other people's beliefs seriously (usually!) even when I don't share them, places of worship and other people's rituals are to be respected and not treated as sparkly things you stick to your life to make it pretty.

The other big influence my parents had over my religious life was their great love of nature. We went for a walk every day we could, we tromped up mountains on holiday, we identified flowers and birds and animals and trees, we got angry about littering, we planted trees with the local conservation society... you get the picture (yes it sounds pretty idyllic and in many respects it was). I never felt this wonderful outdoors place to be empty; I always wanted to believe in something. I felt it was out there. But clearly Christianity didn't cut it (for me, I know it works very well for a good many people). So there's me, up to about age 18 feeling there's 'something out there' but having no clue what the hell it might be.

For me the idea of a single, benevolent, omniscient, omnipotent creator God is simply impossible. If he is benevolent and omnipotent, why is the world the way it is? I feel (always, even in my most self-doubty times) that there IS deity and that is where faith comes in for me. I just know it to be true and I recognise that's completely inadequate as 'evidence'. But if there IS deity but it cannot be God/Allah/Jahweh then what? Then it is more than one, they are not all benevolent, certainly not omniscient/omnipotent and not all-creators either. That is my explanation anyway and it feels right to me, which is really the only test one can have for religion.

But then why worship these not-always friendly, not omnianything, not all-creator gods and goddesses? Not to mention the wights and ancestors I 'honour', as opposed to 'worship'. That, perhaps, is a question for another time. But maybe it will become clear as and when I talk about my gods and goddesses why (for me) they are worthy of my worship.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

I foresee leafy lunches

My veg patch is springing in to life. The onions and peas are positively raring along and I have seedlings of various salad stuffs:

These are giant red mustard seedlings. They're a really pretty colour which doesn't convey brilliantly in the picture. I love to grow things of various colours; thinking about the look of the garden and food on the plate, as well as just practicality. One of the gardens I worked on in the past had a huge ornamental potager and that's definitely influenced how I like to grow my veg, probably up to and including the raised bed look of my plot now I come to think of it.

I'm growing more salad this year  which may just be a roundabout way of making more compost as we're not big salad eaters at the moment. I rarely lust after a cool leafy salad in the way I do a bacon and egg sandwich, even though I do like salad when it's there in front of me on the plate (though not as much as the bacon and egg sarnie it must be admitted). But maybe this year will be the year of the salad. Who knows?