Brooklyn Tweed commentary

It’s a while since I did a stream-of-consciousness commentary on one of Brooklyn Tweed’s look-books. I realised this avo that I haven’t done one in a while, so I took a look with an open notepad…

The book is here, follow along, children!

I like the colour scheme on the cover. This may inspire me to make something in dark blue & black soon…

Peaks – looks too 70s and is too “snazzy” for any of the men in my life.

Belfast – while I like the colours of this (see above re blue on black) the size and shoulder style of this looks as though it would constantly be sliding off my shoulders. So, in essence would be like wearing a blanket. I can see how it would be lovely and cozy, but not something I need just at the moment…

Nolan – I’m intrigued by the stitch pattern used to create the chevrons – it’s the kind of sweater that, if I encountered it in the wild, would probably have me arrested (or thought of as being Quite Odd For Staring) because of the length of time I’d be staring at it trying to work out how it was achieved. Beyond that, in the first image, the thing that caught my eye was the rain mac that the model is wearing over it. Which I didn’t take to be an awesome sign…

Douro – now *this* is a portable blanket, and on purpose. This might be one for the queue as the black scarf/nearly-blanket I’ve had for a couple of years sees a lot of outings… At this point, my main question is “could I drive with it on?”

Etna – they are doing well on naming things to appeal to me, although why this gentle-coloured design would be named after a volcano is hard to tell. I like the colour (dark teal – very “now” – or is it very “last year”? I feel like this has been Highly Fashionable for a while now, although don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining) and I like the shape, but I’ve tried on enough misguided cowl neck garments in my time to know that the neckline, raglan sleeves and batwings would be a terrible combination with my rack.

Bevel – this feels like a showcase for yarn colours. I’m a little underwhelmed by it, and have nothing witty to say.

Kirigami – again, another arrestable stitch pattern, and I like the colour, but probably wouldn’t pick this one up. I’m actually more interested in the model’s hat on this one.

Mason – a cowl with a brick-like stitch pattern – see what they did there? I was deeply scarred in my early twenties by someone asking me “do you still wear that throwback cowl you used to wear at Uni?” I was wearing the cowl at the time. In fairness to her, she was in the front seat of the car and I was in the back. I’m not a fan of tall cowls that are a bit loose – I prefer to be able to wrap them around for better snugness. So this wouldn’t work for me. And the main man in my life isn’t metrosexual enough to wear this.

Colburn – I can see this being a staple wardrobe item for someone, but it’s not singing to me.

Isthmus – If even the models look silly wearing a hat, there’s no chance I’m going to look anything other than silly wearing it. I like the cleverness of the mini-earflaps, but if I’m going to have earflaps, I want them to be definitely there. If BT are going for “a sophisticated take on the Peruvian hat” I think they are misguided. A large part of the point of those hats is their bonkers-ness, and I think it’s a mistake to take that away from them.

Bevel in different colours – I’m still underwhelmed.

Freja – I may be missing out on a world of awesomeness here, but I really fail to see the point of chunky cardigans with short sleeves. If I’m cold, I’m cold all over. Including on my arms.

Isthmus – the beanie version. This is less silly than the earlier examples. This I might be willing to attempt, but it’s still not really anything to write home about.

Geiger – I’m pretty sure I’ve seen an advert for this elsewhere. This is the one I like the most so far (apart from Douro). I like the intricate cabling and the stucturalness of it. V-neck, long sleeves & clever details. Also, this one is made in black, which I like. Having said that, black would be a bad idea for me, probably, given that my cat is mostly white.

Mason in different colours – still don’t like it.

Peaks – might be in different colours. Hard to tell. I’m feeling like there’s quite a lot of repetition here.

Freja in different colours. I like it even less in cream.

I like the picture of Douro that’s on the back cover. In conclusion, there’s a large navy blue blankie-scarf in my future, I think.


Nearly famous

On Wednesday, instead of going to Knit-night at Knit-wise like usual, I went to a Special Event organised by Knit-wise to launch their new status as stockist of Baaa-ram-ewe yarns. Held in a restaurant/tea rooms just around the corner, the event was very well attended, with 50 or so eager knitters attending, including all the people I know through knitting, and some people I knew from other things.

The yarn was very well pitched – it is indeed lovely yarn – and we were clearly meant to come away with the impression (which I’m sure is accurate) that although the yarn is made entirely of British wool (heads-up: wool can be scratchy), it’s very soft and drapey. A finished garment or accessory had been placed on each table, and select individuals were asked to model them. Fran, on our table, did a marv job – if only she weren’t so busy becoming the next Mary Berry of the crafting & jam making world she would be a shoe-in for the UK’s next Top Model.


I’m very tempted, and it’s good to know my LYS will be stocking the stuff. Watch this space.

So, there was a woman of about my age sat at the same table as me who I’d never seen before. I was chatting amiably to her, when my eye caught the rubber bands on her wrist. I saw “BLOODWISE” and a switch flicked in my brain.

That’s the charity Sam Heughan supports. I wonder if this lady is doing myPeakChallenge? I carried on staring surreptitiously at her wrist, for the clue was there. It turns out she is. So, when there was a suitable gap/segwayopportunity in the conversation (which was already going well, I thought) I took the opportunity to reveal that I had spotted that she was most likely an Outlander fan much like myself.

We compared who had read what – Nic (for that is her name) has put in more hard yards than me and has read All The Books, whereas I am rationing myself because otherwise NOTHING WOULD GET DONE EVER. On that note, I’ve just decided (you heard it here first, folks) that I need to set myself a target or reward at which point I get to read the next one. Otherwise I’m just punishing myself indefinitely. Maybe after I’ve read a non-Outlander book I get to read an Outlander book. But I digress.

As if that isn’t enough, I then also twigged that I knew the name on her t-shirt. Turns out Nic is also a podcaster WHO I LISTEN TO. Yarns from the plain is one of the several podcasts I listen to (admittedly somewhat sporadically) while doing the totally easy and not at all unpredictable and dull commute from Ormskirk to Knutsford. I went all groupie on her ass, and got Fran the not-famous-yet Model to take a photo of us.

…which I instantly made a mess of blurring and winged into the ether.

So – I met a famous person who I’m sure is heading to big and fantastic times with her new focus on running an independent yarn dyeing company and studying textiles (see I do pay attention a bit) and who shares (and clearly outstrips me in dedication terms) my unhealthy obsession with Outlander (“whatever, Mum, nobody cares”) and who makes a podcast. My plan now is to internet stalk her (Hi Nic!), buy her yarn, attend her fibre festival and generally scare the crap out of her.

Or not. Have you recorded the next podcast yet?

An aside – Justin at work said that Knit-night sounds like a super-strong treatment for nits (nit-knight). I know. He’s put that thought in my head, so I’m making you share the pain. It’s OK for you. I have to work with him. 

Another link gone…

This winter has seen off another of my mother’s creations – a Celtic mask. It was hanging on a nail on the wall by the patio and when the trampoline went walkabout in one of this winter’s storms, it was knocked off with a fairly predictable outcome.

Lily tried valiantly to reassemble and glue it back together, but it became clear that that wasn’t going to really work. So on Friday I thanked it for its service, and consigned it to the bin.

Beyond its obvious value in being a connection to my mother, this piece had several other things going for it. It was one of her later pieces, which I had specifically chosen to own, as opposed to some of the things which have kind-of drifted into my possession. It was a departure from her usual style into things which she was hoping would appeal to a wider audience, and I’d say was largely successful. I also love that although it was a very successful recreation of Celtic style masks, I can see her “signature” style in it.

So: dear mask, thank you for scaring the bejeezus out of small children, and giving me a link to my mother for a few years:  I now send you on your way.  

Long way home…

Today’s viewing included Mandela, the long walk home; the rest of About Time; a bit of World War Z; quite a lot of Godzilla (the recent one) and… Another one I’ve forgotten already.
Sheesh. I can’t think why I think I won’t remember what I’ve watched.

I’ve been on the go for about 24 hours now, and I’d like to be home, please, not waiting for the delayed Liverpool train at Crewe with a load of pissed scousers…

Edited: the film is The Book Thief (v good!) and I’m pretty sure the pissed blokes are actually Danish rather than scouse…


I was reading a blog post this evening about forming useful habits and building them into your routine. Item 6 was to write down your goals, and item 7 was to visualise yourself succeeding at these goals.

While I don’t disagree on the value of having tangible, written goals which form an explicit statement of intent, I’ve experienced a different way of visualising goal achievement which I have found to be more helpful. One of the several books or websites I’ve read (I can’t actually remember which one – possibly Dan Kennedy or Jeffrey Gitomer) or listened to said that rather than visualising yourself succeeding in your goals and crossing the finish line, visualise yourself working hard to achieve your goals. See yourself doing the hard stuff, doing it with determination, and not giving up.

This I have found very, very useful, especially with running. I combine some visualisation pre-run of me running slowly but surely through the kilometres I’ve planned to run that day, followed by some during-run visualisation of me having a lovely warm shower afterwards and me carrying round a smug “I’ve done exercise” glow for the rest of the day.

The key to this is that in visualising yourself at the end with success, you bypass the journey it takes to get there. As well as acknowledging that what you want to achieve won’t just fall into your lap, I find there is also an aspect of enjoying or appreciating the journey it takes to get there. It’s rare that I visualise myself running through cold, raining, wet streets (although that’s what it was mainly like in November), and more often the not, the sun is shining in my mind.

All I have to do now is get back to the running & exercising, and ideally visualise myself remembering to take more tissues with me when I run.

Magical thankfulness of tidying

The KonMari method of tidying (which is what we are following, boys and girls) insists that you should not feel bad when disposing of the things you have decided no longer spark joy, and so need to leave your possession.

The rationale (in brief, and among other things) is that even if you bought something and it never made it out of the bag after you got it home, the item has served a purpose.

The advice is also to express thanks to the thing that you are discarding for the service it has rendered. The concession is made that if you feel uncomfortable expressing thanks out loud, to do it in your head. Say, for example, if you are at the local tip and the attendant already thinks you’re a bit of a nutter because you converse with him, rather than grunting grumpily.

So, today I thanked our broken toaster for its many years of service. I thanked the blender base for looking after Steve’s blending requirements while he was a student. I thanked the plastic rocking horse for many years of service both with us and with the Silvers, and apologised for the disastrously long time it’s been without handle bars.

I didn’t express thanks to the mountain of cardboard I took in the same trip, because even I have my limits. It’s cardboard.

Although, I could have thanked it for freeing up the space in the utility room, so that I can now get to my washing machine, dammit.

Anyway, I came home feeling lighter, and generally thankful. And there is still much to be thrown away.

Big tidy up, day 1

I’ve been able to finally take action on the magical power of tidying up book I was given at Christmas. My wardrobe is now approx 60% the size it was yesterday, but I think there is still possibly more work to do… I may have been a bit too gentle on myself. I have re-folded what’s left and stacked vertically so that it’s all visible, and I can see how this is really going to be helpful. Plus, I colour-sorted things which brings a lovely sense of harmony.

Onwards and upwards, as the saying goes!



I’m currently…

Listening – to the dishwasher cycling, Matthias typing, the neighbours chatting
Eating – nothing, but the cooked breakfast was tasty and I’m looking forward to lunch at The Wine Bar with Valerie & Steve
Drinking – nothing, but if should be, I’m a bit thirsty…
Wearing – grey sweater dress, “black” jeans, black socks, worn slippers, Casio watch, leather plaited wrist band, hair clip, glasses, underpants, bra, map reference ring, wedding band, engagement rind, stud earrings (one with blue jewel), “love” necklace
Feeling – my butt get slightly stiff from the hard chair. As though I might get a headache if I don’t breathe some fresh air soon
Weather – bright and sunny (so there’s really no excuse!)
Wanting – more relaxation time
Needing – to see someone about my leg which is still sore after nearly a month of not-running
Thinking – about whether I’ve prepared enough for next week’s trip to another continent
Enjoying – this moment, and the anticipation of the year ahead

This can be yours…

Four years ago I made a cardigan. It was made with yarn bought for me by my Dad shortly after mum died, I really love the colours, I’d been planning to knit this pattern for years and I finished it in an amazingly short time.

But here’s the thing. I don’t like it.

It’s drapey and flowy and snuggly warm. It doesn’t itch like wool can, and it’s not too small. I’ve had more compliments about this than pretty much anything else I’ve ever made. Did I mention that I love the colour?

However, the sleeves are also long and drapey which, if you’re either doing stuff in the kitchen or coding, can be annoying. It has no built-in way of keeping itself closed and I’m not about to start collecting scarf pins to do the job. I’m more of a “neat” cardigan kinda gal these days.

So, my plan is to auction it off and give the cash to charity. This cardigan/coat has the capacity to be someone’s favourite new cardigan. I’ve worn & washed it a few times and it’s weathered well. It’s made from New Zealand mostly-wool yarn so should be pretty durable.

I would ask that it not be used to line a dog or cat basket. Yet.

colour purple (and yellow green & grey)

The charity the money will go to is this one: porridge and rice.

My erstwhile mentor Ken took some of his students to Kenya last year and they have since been moved to set up this charity. Even if you don’t want the cardigan, please consider supporting them independently.

So – how do you make this LOVELY cardigan yours? I’ve listed it on eBay with a starting price of £20 + £6 P&P or local pickup (ormskirk or Knutsford). The auction finishes in 10 days (26th March 2014)  and at that point, if you’re the winning bidder, it’s yours.

So – go nuts and let’s see what we can raise for Ken’s new friends in Kenya!

Here’s the link to its Ravelry page for yet more details if you’re interested.

coat on hanger


It’s late in the year to be making new year’s resolutions, so this is not what this is.

I gained a stone in the last year. This means that if my weight is measured in pounds, I’m over 200. This is not good. That feels like a big number. My new intention is to lose 20 of those pounds. I’ve just realised that’s 10%, which sounds like a lot. I might need to frame it in difference words so that it sounds more achieveable! This takes me down to only 1 stone above my realistically achievable post-puberty weight. My target for this is 20 weeks from now. That’s June 8th. In summary, I intend to be 20 pounds lighter than now, 20 weeks from now.

How hard can that be?

And, a non-health intention. Today I crunched someone’s bumper in a car park. My reaction was to stress a lot and feel like this was a major disaster and a big financial setback. In reality, there was no visible damage to our car, and from what I could tell (and took a picture of) the other car’s only damage was on the bumper. Yes, it was a silly mistake, and yes, it will take a bit of cash and possibly some hassle to set right, but in the end, it was a minor blip at the end of what was otherwise a pretty successful weekend.

So, internally, I want to get to a more proportionate reaction quicker. I’m not sure how I achieve that, but as I’m intentionally working towards feeling generally more secure and content, hopefully things that occur outside of the home will feel like less of a threat and more like “shit happens”. I know that I have the skills to deal with most things, I just need the confidence and resilience.

I’ll check back presently and see how it’s all going!