srsly, why?

A Thing happened the other day. It was not a major, serious, bad, life-changing event, but it was more of an additional drip on the drip-drip of everyday sexism that forms the backdrop to one’s life and occasionally drips loudly enough for me to respond with “srsly, why?”

A week or so ago (I’ve been mulling) I took the train to London to visit a friend. I’ve got several friends in London. If I didn’t visit you, it wasn’t you, rest easy. The offender in this tale wasn’t my friend, nor were any of his friends who I saw that weekend, you can all breathe easily. I quite like taking the train by myself. I don’t have to worry about getting seats with my travelling companions, I can knit or read or write or code or snooze or gaze aimlessly out the window without having to explain myself about what I’m doing or how long I’m doing it for. I appreciate that that could be read in a way that makes me sound grumpy and as though I don’t like being with people, including ones related to me. This isn’t necessarily the case, I just enjoy my alone time when I get it. Suffice it to say that generally I am so enjoying the freedom of solo travel that the presence of other people who I don’t know is generally not troubling.


I got through all of the journey there and a lot of the journey back without incident. On the return journey Euston to Crewe I was sitting across the aisle from two couples who were travelling together. They were about my age. Maybe a little older. In my head I’m still in my late 20s, maybe early 30s when in fact I’m in my mid-40s. These folk were kinda late 40s-early50s. They had brought snacks (the subject of some discussion – it’s so hard to know what to get when you’re buying for other people, apparently) and discussed holiday plans – they were on their way home from a mini-break, it transpired. All pretty innocuous, and one couldn’t complain about conversation because we weren’t in the quiet carriage. So I had my earphones in for quite a lot of the time. As we arrived in Crewe, it transpired these four lovely people and myself were all getting off. I was knitting at the time (Wheaten, by Brooklyn Tweed) and of course was knitting up to the last possible second in order to finish the row I was working on. I don’t cope well with stopping half way through a row, as my children will happily tell you – one of their most-heard lines over the years has been “just let me finish this row”. Even with circular knitting. Yes, it’s a problem, just one I choose not to address. So, party-of-four are on their feet sorting themselves out, I’m frantically racing to the end of the line before I start to see platform signs sliding past, when one of the men from the party leans over to me and says:

“I hate to tell you, but you dropped a stitch a few rows back, there.”

From the many possible responses crowding into my head, I chose:

“Thank you for bringing that to my attention, I’ll deal with it later.” I may have preceded it with an “Oh, really?” in a tone of genuine surprise and curiosity. Then he asked me what it was going to be, which I answered “a scarf” – I’d have shared the pattern name with him, but I suspect he didn’t care.

I am now filled with regret over the many other responses I wish I had given, for example…

  • how can you tell? You’re too far away and my knitting is kinda scrumpled up
  • how can you tell? This pattern has many yarn-overs in it that may look to the untrained eye like dropped stitches, however are completely deliberate
  • who made you the knitting police?
  • did I, where? (with panicked look in eyes)
  • why didn’t you say so earlier?!
  • no, I didn’t
  • hard stare, followed by no response
  • what are you knitting at the moment? You’re clearly an expert, so I’m guessing you have several WIPs. Oh, what’s a WIP, you ask?
  • Did I really? Or are you just saying that because you’ve heard  a dropped stitch is a thing in knitting and you want to show off that you’ve recognised that what I’m doing is knitting?
  • Is that a pick-up line? Because saying something negative about something I’m doing isn’t going to work and, dude, you’re wife’s *right there*
  • why would you say that? That’s just mean
  • please come home with me and be my dropped-stitch-spotter for ever
  • actually, this is crochet
  • I haven’t dropped a stitch in about five years, mate, you must be on something (this isn’t actually true, but then neither was his assertion, so who cares, eh?)
  • Oh, that will probably have been on one of the cables I did without using a cable needle – yes, I’m properly living on the edge

I appreciate that on some levels I’m over-reacting, here, however, it feels completely in line with patriarchic behaviour to attempt to pléasante me by pointing out that the thing I’m doing has a mistake in it. Why didn’t he say “I’ve been watching you knit. That looks awesome. What’s it going to be?” or something equally positive? Why belittle me, and what I’m doing?

I’d say he doesn’t get out much, but clearly from the conversation I’d overheard, he does. Maybe he belittles everyone he comes across in some small, unconscious way.

I just felt like it was an opportunity missed. Both on his part – he could have spread positivity instead of negativity, and on mine – for acting like a weak, subservient being, who granted that he maybe knew better about an activity that, with all due modesty, I’m really quite good at. Why have I labelled this (in my mind, and in my opening paragraph) as sexist? Because I can’t imagine that if I had been a man knitting on the train that he would have said anything to me, much less something that implied that he knew better than me the success of the thing I was doing. I’m willing to lay money on he also wouldn’t have spoken to me if Steve had been with me. Maybe I’m over-reacting, and maybe he would have done, but I have no way of finding out. I’ll just pick out my favourite line from the list above and hold it near the front of my brain, waiting for the next time this happens.

In conclusion, and just to put my mind at rest – can you check for dropped stitches on the pic below, and let me know if you see any?

ps. this is an on-request for the boy. I made a mustard gold-yellow version for step-mother’s birthday and he said he wanted one just like it… only in teal. Luckily, I like knitting this pattern 😀

The man in the high …warehouse? (spoilers for Man In The High Castle)

We finished Season 2 of The Man In The High Castle last night and although I enjoyed a lot of it (especially the bits with Rufus Sewell in), it’s fair to say I found watching most of Season 2 a confusing and distressing experience.

It didn’t begin well when I started watching the season hoping that it would still be compelling without Rufus, given that I was convinced his character had died near the end of the previous season. Turns out, I was completely wrong about that and that his character had very much not died, and is a major part of this season. So, I’ll own that one and say many “yay”s for more Rufus. This was not the fault of the writers, but a consequence of me getting confused in my middle age. It did, however, start the worrying thought that maybe I should have re-watched at least the end of the last season, just to get my bearings, if not re-watched all of Season 1. Of course, I didn’t do this. Busy-busy life, only so many hours in the day, we’ve already invested in watching it once for goodness’ sakes. I didn’t even read a synopsis, which would probably have proven helpful.

I like the style of the season. What America would be like under the Nazis/Japanese in the 60s if they had won the war was, in my opinion, well imagined. I enjoyed the action up to a certain point, but early on got myself very confused about who was betraying who, and what the point or influence of the eponymous character was. Which meant that the double timeline denouement with (actually, this time) characters coming back from the dead and some things left open ended, for reasons I couldn’t determine was really properly confusing. Because the husband has a tendency to work in front of the TV, I’m often asked what’s going on at various stages. At the end of Season 2, I was unable to help.

“Didn’t she die?”
“Then why is she there?”
“I don’t know.”

If there was meant to be a link back to Season 1, I would have enjoyed clearer references. Late on, we discover that Washington was nuked at the end of the war. That could have been made more of, and could have been a bigger part of the general build-up to the threat of all-out nuclear apocalypse that hung over the second half of the season. As someone who was a child in the 80s, when the cold war still “raged”, the threat, and any fall-out from there being attacks on US soil (in every sense) apart from the obvious different-outcome-of-the-war thing felt very underplayed.

I did, however, enjoy the playing out of the fate of John Smith’s son, Thomas. The boy has a form of MS which, under the 3rd Reich, means that he should be reported to the authorities and euthanised, however, his father is plotting to get him out of the Reich and away to safety. Thomas realises the situation (because he’s a bright lad) and shops himself, but in a way that won’t harm his parents. I never used to try to guess what happens when watching films & TV, but from early on in this episode, I stated several times “he’s going to kill himself”. The scene where the medics arrive to take him away is well-constructed, and very moving. Even given the subject matter, it’s a high point for me.

I was quite disappointed, as well, that the man in the high castle is really a dude in a warehouse. Given that Germany features prominently in the storyline (with John Smith zipping back & forth from New York to Berlin like it’s round the corner) I had high hopes for an actual castle.

If there’s a season 3, I’ll watch it, if only to hope for things to improve. However, there is definitely some winning-me-back to be done.


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!

It’s all the same to me…

You know how sometimes, even though you may be fully fired up about a project, it gets a little bit same-y?

I’ve got to the point of my Lovely Lavandula where I’ve finished the 12 inches (it should actually be 12.5, but I’ve done 12 – see last blog post) of 1×1 rib and have done 4 pattern repeats. This means I put the stitches on holding yarn and start work on the sleeves. Which start with 4 inches of 1×1 rib.

Lavandula cardigan cuff

And I’m planning to do 5″, because I like longer cuffs.

This would be less of a problem if the other project I’ve brought with me wasn’t also 1×1 rib…

balaclava for Joel

I guess I shouldn’t really complain. After all, it’s in a different colour.

UFO’s and GOOD GRIEF how long is it since I posted?!

I thought it was maybe a week since I last posted. Turns out it’s nearly a fortnight. Goodness, how time flies… Steve was away for some of that time, which usually means I have less time to focus on online stuff. At least, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

This afternoon I had a moment of startitis but resisted it by examining my UFO pile, some of which has probably celebrated more than one birthday. Excuse me while I check…

Yep, two of these are over 2 years old. Oh dear.

So: This is what is currently glowering at me from the corner of the living room. Except usually it’s not spread out so tastefully.

UFO Collection

In order of seniority…

pink tank

The pink tank. I got this yarn intending to make a vintage pattern, but then I either didn’t have enough yarn, or it was the wrong gauge, so it was sidetracked into its current incarnation. The yarn is a lovely baby pink, and is really soft. It was an eBay purchase and I have no idea what brand it is. It’s quite small gauge, so doesn’t grow very fast. This is being knit in the round in a nice stretchy irregular rib. My plan is to do an instance or two of cables to draw it in under the bust, then increase for ease over my shelf and decrease with cables in some form. The needles you can see there are from the swatch I did to test how the cables would look. I now can’t remember what I did on that swatch. But it looks lovely… However, I’ve got to the point of cabling and have suffered a major crisis of confidence. I’m good with the cables, I’ll figure out what exactly I was planning, it’s just the combination of increases and arm holes that follow thereafter. Plus, I’m concerned that ribbed increases will make my rack look like droopy melons. We aren’t too far away from a point where I could redirect the finished item towards Lily, in which case as things currently stand, I’m catering for the flat chested and might get it finished, like, ever.

One of these days I’ll learn my lesson and stop trying to design full size garments a) on the fly and, frankly, b) at all.

Don’t watch this space, though, this project seriously has the capacity to out-live us all.

blue summer top

The blue summer top has *only* been on the hook since August 2011. I bought the pattern in Kenilworth when on a knitting weekend with Lorna. I was blown away by the fact that it was crochet and yet didn’t look like it had stepped straight out of the 70’s. I chose the same blue as on the pattern, which I love, and have been labouring on and off ever since. Well, mostly off. The border around the bottom is worked first, most of which was done on my train commute, and then the body is worked up at 90 degrees from the border. The last time I had a proper crack at this was in Portugal at Easter. And I fear that may be Easter 2012.

The back is done and I’m working my way up the front. This could be ready for my summer holiday 2015. Fingers crossed!

North Cardigan

This one I have an ambition to get done this week. It’s a cardigan for Lily, inspired by the film “Rise of the Guardians”. It’s a russet-red cardi, based on the pattern “That Weasley Girl” which is more of a recipe than a full-on pattern (I like that about it – this is the second one I’ve made) . It has black collar and cuffs, and will have embroidery on the reverse stocking stitch squares and toggle closures. All it needs is the embroidery and the closures. Oh, and it has a black eyelash-yarn detachable collar which needs buttons so that it can be un-detached. Simples, eh.

herringbone cowl

I’ve actually worked on this (herringbone stitch cowl) today, and it’s only been in progress for a couple of months so I’m not sure this counts as a UFO. Except it’s not finished, so yeah, it does. It’s now on its new needle, the one that isn’t going to snap any second now, and bar a slight blip when I was distracted by (David Tennant as) Dr Who, it’s going well. This may be my car knitting this week. When I’m a passenger, that is.

alpaca cardigan

This is my current Big WIP. I’ve done the 12″ of rib (which should really be 12.5″, however…) and am now onto lacy pattern. The pattern says do 3×12 rows before starting on the sleeves, but I’m going to do 4×12. Why? because I want a slightly longer body than Twist patterns usually have, plus I’d like the lace to go a bit lower. Sorry if it feels like I keep showing off, but the large, low rack could use a bit of extra room and I don’t like the idea of the rib turning off at nipple height. It just doesn’t feel attractive.

face cloth

This last one I started about a week ago, intending to make a face cloth for someone. I may instead wrip it out and add it to the stash. No-one in my world wants a hand made face cloth more than I want to make progress on other stuff.

Besides which, I feel a strong need to cast on a turquoise balaclava for Joel and a pair of wraptor socks for …whoever. Oh, and some Weeping Angel socks for someone else. And a ball of pink sock yarn that’s glaring at me from the bureau in the sitting room. And the delph blue sock yarn that wants to be a pair of socks for my aunt.

Yep, the face cloth dies. Onwards & upwards!


Steve was away at the weekend which meant that on Friday night I got to choose what we watched on the TV. Scratch that, I got to choose what *I* watched on the TV. After the children went to bed. Before that, we watched 3 episodes of Dr Who in place of the usual Friday night film & pizza night. We kept the pizza in the mix, just ditched the film in favour of the programme of the moment.

I took the opportunity to watch something I’ve had my eye on for a while – 50/50. Starring Joseph Gordon Levitt, who I’ve liked since he was the child in 3rd Rock From The Sun, the review on five live’s flagship film review show was good. The premise is that JGL’s character is diagnosed with a tumour on his spine in his late 20’s, a cancer which typically has a 50/50 chance of survival, and the film follows him through treatment, his family and friends’ reactions, and so on.

It’s very good. There is a touch of humour, it’s not laugh a minute, and it’s nice to see Seth Rogan, who plays JGL’s best friend, in a serious role. Although, I said that about the last film I saw him in, the title of which I can’t remember just now. It was something like The Last Tango (I’ll have to check that). It was a quiet companion for the evening – some laughs, some smiles, a fairly predictable denouement, but it’s all the more satisfying for that. I cried more than once, but it wasn’t in any way mawkish.

I managed to remain knitting obsessed, as when JGL’s character loses his hair he takes to wearing hats. As he’s in Seattle, he can wear nice knitted hats. My favourite was black with a grey, red and white stripe. Mmmmm, knitting.

I left with a similar warm, wistful feeling that I had after I’d watched The Station Agent. One to go back to one day, and I may well make Steve watch it as well.

Goldfish moments

I did this while gardening yesterday:


I cleaned and treated it at the time. Yet still, every time it’s caught my eye today, I’ve thought;” man alive, what’s that??!?

In other news, I did cycling to the station & back today. Hopefully the last day, but you never know…



Feeling a bit deflated today, and like I’m kinda out of the game. I walked 2 miles today, but as it’s my journey to & from work, I’d have done that anyway. At least no-one overtook me when I was trying to speed-walk this morning!

And because I like to have pictures in my posts, I’ve included a scenic view from my route. I resisted using the ‘1977’ filter ~ it was a bit too close for comfort. The Kilburn Building houses the Computing Department and I gather it’s not that nice to work in… So there’s a blessing in there somewhere!

Back on the horse tomorrow.

More corridors. And a car park.

The strife with Steve’s foot means I didn’t do anything I can pass off as exercise today. The closest I get is thus:

Being a bit late getting to Alder Hey, so having to park at the far end of the car park. + 50m.

Being locked out of the office, so having to go downstairs (again) to get the key. + 50m and a stair climb.

Collecting the children from school. +100m, -1 can of cherry cola (I *could* explain, but doing so would be _far_ less interesting)

Tomorrow I plan to pretty much shoot my (exercising) load. Stand by your beds…

Sorry. Steve just coined the phrase “thighs of polystyrene”. I just thought you should know. We’re reaching new areas in conversations I never thought I’d have.

Just one reason…

Just one of the reasons why I didn’t run yesterday? On our way home at the end of a lovely day at the seaside, the car broke down.

Fortunately we weren’t in the fast lane, which *could* have happened, but we were on a slip road onto the A55, which was bad enough.

As a woman with two children in tow, we were attended really quickly.

We had time for barely 20 choruses of “dancing in my happy pants” before Phil the Mechanic arrived…


…and handed out high vidibility jackets and threats of being tied to lamp posts for safety, and just under 100 until Roy the Relay came to take us back to Ormskirk…


On the upside? We were home by midnight (just). The downside, just 5 hours sleep, and no time to watch an episode of BSG last night…