Friday, 24 May 2013

My recent adventures in time travel

Thanks to a recommendation from Aunty K I have recently discovered the Electric Sheep podcast from Hoxton Handmade. A little slow off the mark, I know. 

I joined the fun at episode 107 and to banish the feeling that I have been missing out I am avidly working through the previous episodes.

I am learning tons because, for those of you who haven't discovered this little knitting oasis already, not only does Hoxton Handmade have a good old gab about her latest yarn related projects and discoveries she also begins each episode with a thought provoking, often humorous and occasionally heart-wrenching essay.

I recommend this podcast, which can be found on iTunes, to anybody who hasn't come across it yet - knitter or non-knitter. If you are an obsessive like me you might want to take a listen to the older episodes that are available too.

I have just finished the first 'series' (up to episode 20) which was recorded in 2009.
It is strange spending 30(ish) minutes every now and then back within those summer months, remembering where I was when I dothed my hat to Harry Patch, shared a final (attempted) moon dance with Michael Jackson and skipped in and out of the heavy showers of that temperamental season. So descriptive is Ms Hoxton that as each episode draws to a close I feel as though I have travelled through time.

I look forward to the next instalment and wonder where, or perhaps more accurately, when it will take me.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

'I'm out of bed and dressed, what more do you want?' - Banksy

This weekend I was faced with a dilemma: to stay up and over-indulge in wine and food on Friday night or, get up early and do the 5km Parkrun on Saturday morning. My decision: both. 
"Madness!" I hear you cry. Yes. 

Never the less, Friday night began for Mum, The Gentle Giant and I with tapas and mojitos in Norwich's Revolucion De Cuba; a busy bar housing a charismatic South American band and a party vibe. I can highly recommend the raspberry mojito. Followed by a visit to a couple of our regular drop-ins, The Tap House and The Rumsey Wells, before heading home for a night cap and promptly falling asleep in front of 'Exit Through The Gift Shop'. A documentary that is well worth a watch if you haven't seen it already (and perhaps prior to the consumption of quite so much booze). It follows street artist Mister Brainwash, a man like no other, as he journeys into the mysterious circles responsible for this ever growing craft and describes the formation of his relationship with the infamous Banksy.

The alarm went off at an ungodly hour the next morning. Groaning incessantly, mum and I dragged ourselves from our beds and stumbled onto a bus to Eaton Park where we joined many of Norwich's finest in the Parkrun. Run entirely by volunteers, this fantastic event is held every Saturday morning and is completely free of charge.

You can walk, jog, stagger or run the track with much encouragement from the volunteers to keep you going and your time is recorded for you. Attending this event were people of all shapes, ages and sizes which was really positive. There were people on their own who whizzed  around the course in "sub 20 minutes", others pushing buggies and then some, like mum, who powered around the course twice, then got lost. (Sorry mum). So it really is something most people could try; if we can do it, you definitely can! 

I did not achieve anywhere close to "sub 20", however I felt that being up, dressed and in the park by 9am was an achievement in itself. 

Parkrun is cropping up all over the place, I was told there is even one in Australia! To see if there is one near you have a look at
I am not a runner but I had the best time, just remember to register online before you go. 

Feeling hungry and as though we had earned it we picked up The Gentle Giant and went for lunch at Jamie's. The rest of the weekend was filled with a trip to cinema city; the best cinema in the world, trolling the junk shops on Magdelan Street for furniture...

... Enjoying one of mum's family famous roast dinners...

... Re-watching 'Exit Through The Gift Shop' (successfully) and a visit to The Book Hive.

The Book Hive is an independent, topsy turvy shop home to many, many wonderful stories. Clambering through its three floors, crammed full with books of every kind, any book worm will feel their fingers just itching with excitement at the thought of all these pages waiting to be thumbed. 

It was in here that mum found my new favourite book: 'This Is Not My Hat', written and illustrated by Jon Klassen.
I found it to be such a refreshing children's story, much of it told through its images. Simple yet compelling with bold lines and deep colours.

There are no heroes, no damsels in need of rescuing, no shiny, glossy pages, no nauseating 'cheese'. Just a firm and clear message: stealing is bad and will get you nowhere - oh and arrogant little fish will get their comeuppance.

It is an entertaining book written for youngsters but lacking the tedium often endured by adults when repeatedly retelling their little one's latest favourite. If this book becomes the new obsession and is expectantly produced by sticky little fingers for the 7th time in a day I would be confident in predicting it would be nothing less than a pleasure for the chosen parent. Even if you do not know any small children I urge you to read it!

Apologies for another knitting light entry. I can assure you the hand towel is growing nicely and I am looking forward to giving my crochet hook an outing for the boarder. 

And in white sofa news: the bolognese stain has now been joined by an entire glassful of red wine. (Not my doing this time). We may have to get out the bleach.

Friday, 17 May 2013

"I'm new here, will you show me around?" - Gill Scott-Heron

The second week in my new homes is drawing to a close and I seem to be finding my feet in my new routine. Thankfully, there are no money-down-the-drain disasters to report this week, in fact I found £10 on the pavement yesterday and I have even made my first friend in Norwich! So, bar a slight white sofa / bolognese sauce incident which I won't bore you with, I feel this week has been quite a success. I do hope I'm not speaking too soon.

I met up with New Norwich Friend yesterday evening as she has agreed to take me to all her favourite watering holes in the city. Last night was the turn of The Birdcage; located in the city centre in Pottergate. 

It was a hit with me for 2 reasons:

1: You can order fish and chips from the chippy opposite and they will bring them across to your table.

2: There was a tabby cat on the bar.

This beautiful, but let's be frank, slightly chubby pussy has recently been put on a diet, however when the neighbouring table's fish and chip order arrived it became clear that he did not agree with this decision.

Fab food and fury entertainment - I will be returning to this establishment.

In knitting news I have enlarged the flannel pattern and am now working on a matching hand towel. Photos to come.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Let's Just Do It.

I met such an inspiring lady today who had so much get up and go bubbling from her it was infectious. 

Following my resolution to become as involved as possible in the local craft scene I visited a beautiful little shop which opened on Saturday on North Hill in Colchester called Pirates and Princesses. It is well worth a look if you haven't been in already; dangling from the old, exposed beams are exceptionally tasteful handmade gifts and home-wear, the white washed shelves are lined with trinkets, traditional toys and in those four walls you can find everything you could possibly wish for to make a birthday bash complete.

Standing behind the counter was Liza Stoker, the brains and hands behind Robinsons Designables: .

After a ten minute conversation with this lady I was absolutely brimming with ideas and confidence in stepping forward with my crafty plans.  Liza gave me some fantastic advice regarding taking on stalls and shelves in shops, fayres, markets and festivals, overcoming my objections of not having much in the way of stock by pointing out, with a wave of her hand, that less can be more; it's all in the quality. 

Where has my 'let's just do it' attitude been?! Well, wherever it's been hiding, I am pleased to announce that it is back.  So thank you Liza Stoker, you marvellous woman, watch this space!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Hooked (ha.ha.)

To complete my Dishcloth I needed to crochet a boarder around the edge. So I first needed to learn to crochet using the Single Crochet stitch.

I decided to do this yesterday evening after a one or two too many white wine spritzas which perhaps wasn't my brightest idea yet as I had never picked up a crochet hook before. However I am pleased to inform you that it went surprisingly well! There is room for vast improvement under no uncertain terms but I am well and truly 'hooked' to this fine craft. See the finished product in the photos below.

I think they are far too nice to scrub the dishes with so following Aunty A's suggestion I have decided they are in actual fact flannels - far more worthy of face scrubbing! I am very excited that in learning this new skill the pattern database available to me has grown considerably, I would urge anyone who hasn't already to arm themselves with a crochet hook asap!

Friday, 10 May 2013

All Change!

First things first I must apologise to you for my recent silence, I have been really very busy but that is no excuse! I have been making some enormous changes over the past two weeks all intended to give me more time to concentrate on my knitting and to make me a much happier lady - you only live once after all! However so far all I have achieved is falling into an inescapable realm of chaos...

I will tell you all about it in just a moment but before that I've got some news I can't wait any to share with you.

There is a little shop in Colchester on Crouch Street called Tea and Sympathy, I don't know if you've heard of it? It sells some wonderful things from vintage clothing, clever contraptions to traditional toys and, most importantly, a huge array of handmade goods created by Colchester's crafty inhabitants. It is also host to many creative workshops, social get-togethers and beauty sessions so I really would urge you to go down and take a look if you are in the area, there is something for everyone. I visited a few weeks back to peruse their Aladdin's Cave of gems and got chatting to co-owner Melissa. I left 20 minutes later grinning from ear to ear having been offered the opportunity to sell my wooly creations in their store!

I can't tell you how excited I am. I have been racking my brains for ideas of things to make as we are heading towards the summer months so the perfunctory scarves, gloves and hats are a little redundant for the time being.

Aunty K came up with the fab idea of dish cloths and after a quick search on Ravelry I found a great pattern using moss stitch for a better scrubbing texture - and best of all it's free.

Here is the link to the pattern for you, alternatively you can find it in my projects: check out the other ideas I've had of things to try so far. Let me know if you have any suggestions and feel free to add me while you're there, I haven't got many friends yet!

So that's my exciting news, now back to the big lifestyle shake up!

You remember the call centre I mentioned I've been working in until 8pm every evening? It is now a thing of the past! My brilliant mum has let me move back home (crazy woman) so I can afford to live on my part time Learning Support Assistant role and give up irritating people on the phones on a nightly basis.

Now the part of this that has caused my state of disarray and general confusion (more so than usual) is that mum lives in Norwich so all my stuff has been shifted up there and I am spending half my time at mum's and the other half at The Gentle Giant's in Colchester. I have been flitting between the two places for 4 days now and so far I have forgotten the card I needed to pick up my train tickets, left the paper counter part to my provisional driver's licence in Norwich causing me to miss my theory test and I have managed to leave my laptop at the school in Wivenhoe which I needed for my blog updates and other bits and bobs this weekend. I am beginning to think I may need to strike 'highly organised individual' from my CV.

Due to my lack of laptop I now find myself in the public library sitting opposite my new best friend, a ninety one year old gentleman, who after a swift assessment of my current living situation told me that I need to dump the boyfriend and get a new one nearer Norwich. This seems to be a sensible suggestion, I wonder how The Gentle Giant will take it...