Friday, 28 October 2011

Disappearing Act

You see I really should think things through better. That way, I would have arrived back in the blogosphere, posts spooling out all over your Google Reader/whatever else you use, dazzling you with the awesomeness which is my life.

Instead I did a really boring post about books and now I'm going to disappear for a week or so.

(Must get better at timing.)

For the next week I shall be undertaking essential Fred and Lily sitting duties and then I'll be off to see The Person so blogging will be non-existent until the 2nd week of November, but I promise I'll make up for it then yeah?

In the meantime let me leave you with this...

The girl I share an office with just said the word "spontinuity" instead of "spontaneity".

I thought I was going to give myself a hernia laughing.

Happy weekend.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Three Classics for the Price of One

Hello. Have you missed me?
Apologies for the fact that I have been off radar. Almost 2 weeks since my last post? Bad Girl. I’ve been majorly snowed under at work recently and my crafty Gantt Chart, whilst good at keeping me organised has also meant that my nose has been to the grindstone and there’s been no time for anything else. Plus there was a wee jaunt to Belfast thrown in for good measure.
Anyway I’m coming back with possibly the worst post ever because it’s going to be about books and we all know that you hate the book reviews but it’s ok, this is going to be quick and snappy and bright and breezy because I have three Classics to review and rather than do them all in separate posts and lose the few readers I have left I thought I would squizz you through them nice and quickly.
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Oh how my hopes were high. I mean this guy is up there with all those books that you feel everyone has read but you. Well I’m here to tell you not to feel bad about not having read it.
I think it’s a case of hype. The Classics I’ve most enjoyed on this jaunt have been the ones I’ve known little about, the big guns have done very little for me and this was no exception. I’m inclined to blame myself and just say that I’m not smart enough, I’m not getting the big major themes out of it, I’m not attuned into the symbolism. Maybe it’s just that I’m not American and living in the 1920s so it doesn’t feel like a big deal? I don’t know but it didn’t do much for me.
That said, it’s not a bad book at all, I would say to read it but try and drive all expectations out of your head. This book was in my Penguin Banned Books Collection because it was apparently banned in the US for obscenity. I must have missed it....
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day – Winifred Watson
A while ago when I asked for you guys to recommend some Classics to me, a couple of people mentioned this book. When I went to Persephone Books on my recent trip to London I knew I had to pick up a copy.
This is immensely readable and lovable. All the characters are warm and everyone is wrapped up nicely with a bow at the end. It won’t change your life, it won’t tax your brain, but it will make you a slightly happier person by the end of it.
It is incredibly funny in some places and there is absolutely 100% no way you could not read this book and end up loving Miss Pettigrew by the end and cheering like a mad woman inside your head for everything to turn out ok for her.
And the best thing about this book? It’s set over one day so obviously isn’t going to take you much time to read at all. (Ooh just like One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – although a little more lighthearted.)
The Dud Avocado – Elaine Dundy
I feel there should be some kind of English essay I should be writing where I compare and contrast the heroine of this book, Sally Jay, with Miss Pettigrew. But I’d never make my brain work that hard. I had picked up a copy of this book a while ago because it’s been released by Virago in their Modern Classics range with a spiffy little cover. I couldn’t afford it at the time so imagine how pleased I was when I discovered this copy being given away at work. Bonus.
Sally Jay is an American living in Paris in the 1950s, she’s been sent there for 2 years by her Uncle on the proviso that she go out and find herself. She is exasperatingly naive at times, flighty and actually quite difficult to like. But she’s impossible not to love and as you follow her life through Paris in an almost non-existent plot that chops and changes as she floats from adventure to (mis)adventure you are left simply shaking your head at her antics.
See? That didn’t hurt too much did it.
Guess what?
The Dud Avocado would be the 12th Classic that I’ve read this year.
Oooh I can hear the tick of a pen against a list....

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Ripply Beast

Good lord. Six days since my last post. Apologies. I swear I have so much to tell you (my new camera, the latest Classic I read, the list is endless) but I just don't have the time. Stupid work. Stupid other things taking up my time.

Anyway. I wanted to say thank you so much to all of you who chipped in on the grand debate about what I should do about the blanket I'm making for my Dad and his wife this Christmas. The majority of you seemed to be in agreement that I should really follow what my heart wanted me to do and start again.

And at pretty much the same moment as I decided to start again Heather announced that she and Lucy were starting up a Ripple-along and encouraging everyone to get their ripple on together. Like some kind of dirty crochet orgy.

Hurray! What excellent timing.

And so I am throwing my hat in the ring. I need to get my ripple on anyway but this will give me an extra kick up the bum because I will no doubt feel like I'm lagging behind everyone else.

So here marks the beginning of my Ripple-along Blanket.

There is a drawback to rippling though. And that drawback looms ominously on the horizon like some horrible yarny cloud.

The beginning chain. Yes shudder in your boots people. God I hate that beginning chain. I hate that you have to sit very quietly on your own and count like a counting demon counting all his important demon things. And then once that ordeal is over then you are faced with the foundation chain which involves you sweating and swearing because even though you thought your tension was loose it wasn't really and oh my god this is the biggest pain in the backside ever.

But I took a deep breath and plunged in late one night. I have found that the best way for me to begin that first chain is to not get myself muddled up trying to multiply by 14 and then hope that I can get the right length in one go without losing count. It won't happen. My trick is to just do it in batches of 14 - so I put my head down, chain up to 14, stop, remind myself to breathe, and then it's head down and into the next 14.

This blanket is going to be a bit of beasty. I've made it so that it fits across my double bed. Yep it's a big Ripply Beast. I'm not even sure how big the beginning chain was because it was done in batches of 14 and there's really no way I'm going back and counting. Let's just settle for saying it's long.

What is great about rippling though is that once you've been through the horror of the beginning, the rippling is easy peasy lemon squeezy and is a dream to just sit calmly and go up and down and up and down like a ripply dream.

Which is why, just 4 days after making that first loop around the hook, my Ripply Beast now looks like this...

Hurray! Four whole rows of ripply goodness.

Actually. There's five rows of ripply goodness, I just haven't taken another photo since earlier this evening.

I would tell you what colours I was using, it's Stylecraft DK (obvs) but the piece of paper I have on which I have written all the colours down is on the other side of the room and I literally cannot be bothered to get up of my backside and pick it up. Sorry. It's the truth. I'm a lazy rippling crocheter. Don't judge me.

And look! There's a Flickr group so you can see everyone else's photos as they Ripple-along. Lovely jubbly.

How many days left til Christmas?...

Monday, 10 October 2011

The last thing my camera saw...

It's that time of year again.

Time for Hull Fair.

I don't think there's a person alive (and certainly not an adult) who gets more excited about the fair than me. Unfortunately everyone else has grown up and isn't up for spending hours wandering around and getting chucked around like a ragdoll. Boo to them I say.

I've got 3 trips planned this year over the week or so the fair is on, because I am just that childish. One with the girls, one with an old friend from school and one with The Person who has never experienced the delights the fair has to offer.

This Saturday saw my first trip with the girls which unfortunately coincided with the heavens opening. I'm talking all kinds of rain pouring out of the sky.

To my immense disappointment only a couple of rides were endured before people called off feeling tired, bashed and thoroughly soaked through. I got to be whirled around a wee bit, but only enough to whet my appetite for my next trip tomorrow.

I'm not great at being just spun in round in circles. I can be flung about and go upside down and be thrown in the air without any problems whatsoever, but spinning round and round and round has an unfortunate effect on my brain and consequently stomach.

A couple of my friends however are little daredevils and went on the ultimate spinny roundy ride which is called the Superbowl. Think waltzers, on a platform, which tips in the air and you'll have the gist. My whole life I've wanted to go on it and my whole life I've never dared and this year was no exception.

Through the pouring rain I tried to snap some pictures, but,

Lots of rain + Flashing strobe lights + Spinny machines = crap photos

I did my best however and somewhere in this photo you can see my friends...

The next afternoon I decided I'd have a look at what photos I'd managed to get the night before. I turned my camera on......

....and nothing.

My camera is officially dead.

I'm not sure if it got completely soaked through, or if it got completely bashed about on the last ride we went on, which has left me with an incredibly bruised arm which I can't lift above my head.

Following the advice from some friends my camera has been taken apart and is enjoying a nice rice bath at the moment. Apparently the rice can soak up any excess moisture which might remain, but it's been in there for 24 hours and there's still no joy.

Luckily for me I took out insurance cover when I bought the camera and it's still covered. A quick hunt under my bed uncovered the policy and I'll be taking him in tomorrow to get him replaced.

There was more than a slight panic when I realised the effect this might have on my efforts to complete Project365, but my phone is going to have to substitute for now. I just have to figure out how to upload my photos straights to Flickr. Oh technology.

So the last thing my camera saw?

Aaaaaaah poor thing...

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Bloggers to the rescue!

So I decided a while ago that I wanted to make a blanket for my Dad and his wife for Christmas.

I duly ordered some Stylecraft from the internet and then gasped in horror as I realised that either I'm blind or the photos on the internet were not good because the bag of tricks I opened was not. good. Seriously. What must they have thought I was making as they packed the bag up? They should have had some system in place where they could ring me and say "Are you sure you want these colours lady?!"

Anyway. Cue trip to see Little Tin Bird where I could go and see some Stylecraft wool with my eyes and pick some colours (or actually get Heather to do it for me). At the time you all bemoaned that I didn't take any pictures of the wool so here you go.

Look at the prettiness!

So I had all my loveliness and I seriously couldn't wait to get cracking. And I didn't - I was crocheting at home and I was crocheting at my sister's and then I was crocheting in my sleep (ok, maybe the last bit isn't true).

And then I stalled.

Because I got the feeling that I didn't really like what I was doing. This bemused me because if I decided to do something how could I suddenly not like it?! Anyway there was definitely a feeling of not liking it and this manifested itself in me studiously ignoring the gorgeous bag of colourfulness hoping it would sort itself out.

Funnily enough it hasn't, and with Christmas approaching I know that I need to make a decision - do I carry on the route that I'm going down or do I start again?

You see I didn't want to do another granny square blanket. I can't even explain why, I'd just decided I wanted to do something different. So I looked through my Jan Eaton book and decided on a square that I'd done before, the Square Target...

I thought it might look cool all different colours. I wouldn't be able to do all the colours in one go, I thought I'd do squares in select colours and edge them in cream and then bring them all together in the end. I think this is where I'm struggling. I've done four squares so far and I'm just not feeling it, but I don't know if I'm not feeling it because these particular squares don't go together and if I keep going I'll feel better about it when I have more combinations or because it's a bad idea all round.

So this is where I need your help. Do I continue on the road I'm going down or scrap it all together and start a ripple (which I think is what my crochet soul is begging to do)?

Square Targets?




(Unless you're having issues with Blogger like I am at the moment. It's not letting me comment at all, or at least I don't think it is, I know I've e-mailed a couple of you my comments instead! Is it just me or can no-one else comment either?!)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

September Flickr favourites

Good lord what a busy month. So much has happened. In fact this month is exactly why I really like that I've been doing Project 365 because when I looked back at this month I found myself going "God was that really this month?! I thought it was bloody ages ago!"

This month has been very busy travel-wise - I've been to new places and old, I've travelled on trains and Megabuses, I've been away on my own and with The Person, I've met people (and animals) for the first time and in and amongst all of this I've been packing to move house.


3rd September - Today was the day I struck out on my own and boarded a train to visit a SBF - also known as a Special Blog Friend (said in the style of The Inbetweeners). I went to go and visit the Heather in her home town which was amazeballs because,
a) I got to meet someone new, and 
b) I got to visit a new place

But anyway you can read all about it here.

12th September - Today was the day that I went to meet a new dog. My Dad and his wife have got a new goggie in the form of Max, a Golden Retriever and this was his first day in his new home, so obviously I was there, banging the door down to meet him immediately. He really deserves a blog post of his own so I won't talk about him too much.

22nd September - Well you all know what I did on this day - I went to London. All on my own. Like a right brave girl. This is quite literally the only photo I took that day, it wasn't really a photo taking kind of day. I took this after I'd been to the Museum of Childhood and the Gallery Cafe. Read all about my awesome bravery here.

25th September - I'm full on talking about Christmas now people. No holds barred, it's Christmas talk all the way. I'm afraid you're just going to have to deal with it. I've been on a Christmas tag kick lately because they are very quick to whip up meaning that you get pretty instant gratification. It would be easy for me to just keep making Christmas tags until the sun comes up and ignore the other projects I need to be getting on with. Thank goodness I have my Crafty Uber Geeky Gantt Chart to keep me on the straight and narrow.

28th September - Unless you've been living in a very deep and dark hole with the spiders for the past month you won't have missed the fact that I moved house. I picked up the keys on this day and got the second ever sight of my new space - the last time I'd seen it was when I viewed it before deciding to take it so there was actually a part of me that was a bit panicky that I was remembering it all wrong and it was half the size I thought it was. Thankfully it was as beautiful as I remembered.

30th September - Normally I'm pretty behind when it comes to anything related to pop culture. I don't know what's at Number 1 and I have no idea who the latest celebrity couple is. So when I saw these Screme Eggs in a newsagents in town I assumed it was yet something else that I was well behind the times on. However, having uploaded a photo to Facebook immediately, it turned out that I wasn't the only one who didn't know about these. They taste exactly the same as normal Creme Eggs but the centre is green instead of being yellow.

Not the best photo but the 30th September also happened to be ridiculously hot and it was melting in my hand!

I'm torn between being excited that I'll now be able to buy Creme Eggs virtually year round and being sad because I kind of looked forward to my first sighting of Creme Eggs each year.


One more month down. I officially have less than 100 photos left to take. Wahey!


That must mean that Christmas is getting uncomfortably closer....damn.

Monday, 3 October 2011

My Space

Oh hai.

Guess what I did this weekend?

I moved house.

It feels like it's been a long time in the offing but it hasn't really, just 5 weeks.

The Person very bravely offered to come over this weekend to help with the move. I did give him plenty of warning that I would be a big ball of stress and that he could come on the proviso that he not make any jokes because I would almost definitely lose my sense of humour somewhere in the move.

But actually as it turned out, everything went pretty smoothly. Thankfully my Dad has a Jeep, meaning that all it took was 3 trips and I was all moved. No I don't know how I have so much stuff, I didn't think I had that much but somehow what doesn't seem like much seems to fill boxes very very quickly.

Once I was all moved there was a slightly overwhelming sense of panic where I just kept looking at all the boxes and going "Okaaaaaaaay. Now. Where do I begin?"

And this lot was only the tip of the iceberg!

Luckily I am a machine so I just started and basically didn't really stop until I was finished. Of course I meant to take photos of my progress along the way but the robot in me didn't want to stop. I wanted to get as much done as possible. Mostly because I really hate untidiness and messiness and living amongst unsorted things would freak me right out, but also because I knew I was going out that night and would be hungover on Sunday and incapable of doing a lot of sorting.

I took today off work and I'm pleased to say that I'm pretty much sorted. There are little things to do here and there, but for the most part I am a settled little nested Girl.

One of the reasons I fell so head over heels in love with this room was because of the size of it. I have landed on my size 8 feet here and have managed to bag a flippin' well huge room. When I saw it I thought three things;
1. Oh my god it's massive
2. Oooh there are nice wooden floors, I can totally get a rug (the one in the picture came with the room, I will probably store it somewhere and get me a new one)
3. Wow a fireplace, I can totally crochet bunting and hang it from there (yes I really did think that).

So anyway, allow me to take you on a quick spin around my little space.

Let's start with the corner diagonally opposite the door. All pretty basic, wardrobe, laundry basket, chest of drawers with the TV in situ. I've tried to create little "areas" where possible so that the room kind of, sort of, makes sense. So if you take a little closer look at the windowsill you will see...

...My glass storage jars of wool. They don't look as pretty as they used to because I've used up all my scraps on my various projects, but they can look gorgeous with all the colours going on inside them. And beside the jars of wool are all my books relating to crafty stuff - cross stitch, crochet, embroidery and sewing - all in one handy little place.

Moving a little further round you can have a better view of that fireplace. No it's not for real life fires, but I need to find something to put in the space, big white altar candles or something. You can see Mr Toad taking up residence on the right hand side and on the left hand side are a load of things that will eventually need to go up on the walls. An important job but one that can wait for a little while longer.

What was that? What's that on the right hand side of the fire surround?

It's the books that I bought from Persephone Books on my recent trip to London. A few of you asked which ones I got - I did intend to tell you in the blog post originally but by the time I wrote it they had been all packed up and I honestly couldn't even remember what I'd bought! So there they are for you.

Moving round again we have the cupboard which has got hanging space and has also seen a lot of stuff shoved in it until a better home can be found for them - I'm operating on an "out of sight out of mind" policy at the moment. The grey drawers hold all my crafty stuff - from embroidery threads, to aida, to cards, to fabric to all random kinds of crap, it's all in one place for me to get my grubby little mitts on. 

The bookcase next to it contains my permanent book collection (barring 4/5 boxes that live at my Dad's until I can find space for them one day). As you can see I am harsh - very few books that I read are kept. There are so many books in the world that I don't feel I can justify keeping ones that don't set my world on fire so off they go. There's probably a whole blog post in itself about that bookshelf.

We need to spare a quick moment to talk about the white cupboard under the sink. This was The Person's Ultimate Job on Saturday. I knew that he couldn't really help unpacking because only I would know where things needed to go, so he had the job of getting his flatpack hat on and constructing some under sink storage for me.

This is possibly the best invention ever. The wheel? Pah. Sliced bread? Whatevs. Under-sink storage is where it's at. This guy is from Argos and has been a saviour - there's one shelf inside it and all my little things - razors, cleansing wipes, deoderant, hairspray, you name it, sits inside here and is all nicely stored away without taking up any extra space. Magical. Round of applause for The Person please.

Behind the door was the perfect place for my other bookcase to go. It was meant to be for this fella. This bookcase contains all the books I haven't read yet. I know. I have problems.

And to complete the circle we have my bed. I have plans to get a second hand armchair from charity or something to maybe put in front of the fireplace because I don't really want to get into the habit of watching TV in bed. Plus my I am prone to getting bad backs, and using my bed as a sofa won't do it any favours. But until I buy one, I've set up my cushions at one end of the bed to create a seating area.

What was that? What's the cushion on the far right? Aaah allow me to tell you...

How cool is Mr Owl?! He has flown for freaking miles all the way from another country. I won him in a giveaway over at No knitted knickers. Haven't visited her? Well do so immediately.

Or at least wait until you've finished reading this ridiculously lengthy post. The end is nigh I promise.

You may have noticed at the end of the bed a little brown table. I'd said I wanted a table to do computer things and craft things on in an attempt to stop the bad back issues I've already mentioned. Mum had suggested a drop leaf table would be good because it could be easily stored away. I mentioned this to Dorothy and on Saturday she spotted this baby for £19 in a charity shop and by the end of the day he had taken up residence.

So when I want to do computer things he can come out and sit like this...

And if I need more space to spread out then he can be like this...

Ta-da!! He's pretty battered at the moment but you know what that means....Project Makeover!! It won't be soon but it will happen eventually. I'm excited for it.

Yeah. I reckon I've bored you enough now.

Can you tell I'm kind of excited?

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Crafting Geekdom

You may kick and scream and shout and grow very angry at the fact that I’m about to mention Christmas on this blog but I think we’re allowed now. We're getting towards the end of September and I’m sure anyone crafty knows that if you have a full time job, Christmas crafting really needs to have begun by now.
Well at least if you craft at my pace it does. (Plus you have to allow for lost time due to hangovers.)
I’ve had ideas swimming about in my head for some time about things I would like to make for people at Christmas but I realised a while ago that I needed to get these ideas down and on paper, otherwise I would find myself in the middle of December with absolutely zilch done.
Enter.....the Gantt Chart.

Ok. It’s not really a Gantt Chart. I just messed about on Excel to make something that vaguely looks like a Gantt Chart.
For those not in the know and who can’t be bothered to click on that nice little link I embedded for you, a Gantt Chart is the ultimate in organisational geekdom. It’s a bar chart that can track progress on a particular project or projects –the chart can show at which point you’d expect everything to be done by and how long each bit would take.
This is basically a visual tool which I can look at and go “OH MY GOD I SHOULD HAVE STARTED THAT BY NOW!” And stop me from faffing around doing something irrelevant and nonsensical. (Like reading. Seriously. Reading has taken a big hit now that I’m getting my creativity on.)
I know that some of you are shaking your heads in amusement at my ridiculous ways but I know that there will be a few like-minded freaks who are getting very excited right now.
This is like organisation on steroids.

And you might call me crazy and you might think I’m a little tapped in the head and you might say “What’s wrong with just having a list like a normal person?” and I would concede on all of those points but for me the visual works. Maybe instead of it meaning I’m super anal it means that I’m just ever so slightly retarded and need it all spelled out for me.
Either way. It’s working. The chart has meant that I am committed to getting things done in a certain time and actually the first three things on the list have been completed. And not just completed, but completed ahead of schedule. Now that's a good feeling.

It means I can get a grip on just how many Christmas cards I’m making. Obviously I made a resolution to make at least 1 a month but I feel that now I can step it up a notch, so I’m aiming for one every couple of weeks. I’ve added gift tags to the list as well, they only take an hour or so to make up, it’s easy peasy to squeeze one of those out per week and have a nice little stockpile to dive into when it comes to wrapping presents day.
It should also hopefully mean that I can plug away nicely at the blanket I’m planning to crochet for my Dad and his wife for Christmas. When the other little tasks are done I can crochet away on that until the point on my chart where the next project should be started. Or I can start a project earlier than I planned to and get it out of the way.

The possibilities are endless.
Except that they’re not really because December 25th is definitely going to come in just over 3 month’s time and everything needs to be finished by then.
And see? Even the album that I’m supposed to be making for France, which I started with such gusto is still on there. It needs to be finished by the 31st December if I’m to have not failed at my Not Really Resolutions this year. It will most likely be completed in the week between Christmas and New Year when all this silly Christmas crafting nonsense is completed.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and consult my Gantt Chart and find out what it is I'm supposed to be doing next...