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A lesson in life December 27, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting.
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Do you remember these?

I knitted them two summers ago.  I started them in June, and finished them in December, on Christmas Eve, and I was so proud of them.  They were a lot of firsts for me: I learned to knit socks so I could knit them – they were the second pair I ever made.  They were the first big project I ever made, my first foray into online knitting patterns, and more importantly the first lacework I ever did.  It’s because of these socks that I learned that there was more than one type of increase and decrease in the world, and a whole lot more to texture than I thought.  The wool I used was frankly not very good and the pink hearts were knitted with cotton – which I would never do these days, but my, it was a learning curve.  I intended to send a message to their designer, to thank her, but for one reason or another I never did.

Their first outing in public was at the college Burns Night Ceilidh.  They kept falling down.  I was so damned proud of them, though.

On Christmas day this year I got them out to wear them again, and discovered this:

It’s not a large hole, big enough that I can get my thumb through it but not stretching very far.  Moths, it looks like.  But I don’t know how to repair it – it spans about half a dozen rows, including a bit of the lacework, and I know I’m just not that good.  It’s the finished object I’m most proud of ever, though, even with its itchy yarn and vast numbers of mistakes.  So something I really want to do this year is to make another pair, with the best, smooshiest, longest-lasting yarn I can find.  And these ones are going to be perfect.

I’d contact the designer to tell her about these, too, but even I think I’m being a little bit obsessive here.

ETA: Gotcha.


Questing and bakery December 17, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Lovely people, Theatre.
1 comment so far

…are two of the things that happened yesterday that were really, really good fun.

First of all though, the view from my window about an hour ago:

(The snow looked more awesome in real life – and was actually falling pretty dramatically.  However my photo skills just make it look blurry.)  Durham in the snow makes me happy.  One day I’ll see York or Edinburgh in the snow too and maybe I’ll get the same sense of awe and privilege to be there as I get in Durham or Winchester.  It’s just stunning.  The cathedral… I mean, wow.

On the other hand, I am NOT looking forward to taking my bags to the station tomorrow.  Linguistic Housemate has offered to help, and Lawyerly Housemate has said so will he if he’s not already at the theatre with a bottle of wine (yay Christmas) – so it shouldn’t be too bad.  My packing so far looks like a roughly equal ratio of clothes, dressing gown, textbook and yarn.  I should think so.

Yesterday evening, Techie Towers hosted a gathering which, consisting mainly of techies, meant that much Youtube was watched, much food was eaten and not one single photo was taken ever.  (Little known fact: techies are invisible to cameras.  Ever wondered why you never see them on Eurovision?  Another little known fact, apparently for Eurovision last year they used six lighting desks.  So six light ops, and six DSMs.  Six!  I am actually in awe.)  It was lovely having everyone together for a bit, and we did our fair share of talking about cables and West Side Story next term…

…The Cube of Doom (it’s a Bedlam cube) remains undefeated despite the lure of a prize and the best efforts of quite a few people.  And I woke this morning to discover:

Oh, that party.  And, in fact, that washing up.  Oh well.  It could have been worse.  It always interests me that techies by nature of their jobs tend to be the ones doing the clearing up after everyone else, so they seem to leave surprisingly little mess, considering.  Still enough for the time being, though.

The oven and I took this opportunity to get to know each other a little better, with the result of gingerbread and cupcakes.  I missed baking.  Baking makes me feel at home.

What also made me feel at home was the quest to find the Last Bottle of Sloe Gin in Durham.  Linguistic Housemate and I couldn’t find a bottle of sloe gin anywhere, so we ended up trekking round Durham before ending up at Marks and Spencers.  I’m clearly going to end up being Mrs M&S in a few years time when I have a mortgage and children and whatnot, so I should have thought of it beforehand, but anyway we went in there and chatted to a very lovely assistant and sent another one up to the stockroom to look for the gin.  (Awkward moment: at work, I’m usually the one that gets sent up to the stockroom.  Therefore I am quite aware that this poor lad was inwardly cursing me.)  And he found some!  This evening will therefore consist of gin, and popcorn, and a good film.  I’m really looking forward to it.

A few other things that’re making me smile at the moment:

Freshwater pearls, half a Christmas present from Linguistic Housemate.  It’s her birthday in a week or two so I’m going to make her an Ishbel because she’s been wonderful this term and deserves to have the time spent on her.  Also she admired mine.  Therefore I’m going to go all out…

…and put beads on it.  (They’re actually silver-lined dark purple and I adore them.)  Also, Midge’s mittens are starting to look a little bit on the awesome side.

I’m not actually very good at stranded colourwork yet – if you look closely (or not that closely if you’ve ever done colourwork before) you can see that my tension is utterly crap, with the result that it’s all bunched up and a little bit blobby.  I’m taking this as a cue to a) practice and b) use circular needles next time.  I think I’m a circular needle convert.  But I’ll definitely be making another pair of mittens for myself when these are finished.

Let’s not even talk about Dad’s socks.  Men’s feet, being as they are that extra inch or two longer than my own feet, are so bloody irritating to make socks for.  Especially plain vanilla unpatterned socks.  I am so bored with them it’s untrue.

It’s four o’clock already.  I’d better get on with the packing.

I just found this December 14, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Law, Literature, University.

‘I wrote a poem. That’s a bit like me saying, “I rewired your house.”‘ – Jeremy Hardy

Heh.  This is a bit of a blast from the past.  I wrote it at some unknown point last year, and rediscovered it yesterday evening while procrastinating.  It seemed, if not appropriate, then at least current.  I haven’t got long of being a teenager left, I can still write poetry occasionally without feeling guilty.  Don’t feel obliged to read it.

On a completely different note: AHA!  aha aha AHA!  After the previous post, I completely apologise in advance.  But I honestly did not realise there was a word for it.  Everyone read this article, and tell me you don’t think it’s familiar.  Someone’s just explained both years of my GCSEs pretty much pat.  Shocking.


People expecting the worst December 13, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Breaking the fourth wall, Durham, Sheer bloody-mindedness.

I was, as is probably predictable by now of a Saturday night, walking up to the theatre with Linguist Housemate, when we passed a few of Durham’s more glorious drunkards who attempted to high-five her.  She feigned deafness and selective blindness with a skill and ease  I always find impressive, and just kept on walking.  Being the closest thing Techie Towers has to a Militant Feminist In Residence, I thought this would be an interesting opportunity to run past her the idea that Jenny blogged about, that is, that attempting to high-five a woman, or wolf-whistling her, amounts to subconsciously trying to make her scared.

“Of course it is,” said Linguist Housemate.  (I envy her black-and-whiteness sometimes.)  “They wouldn’t do that to a man, would they?”

Durham counts among its oddball features a particularly talkative range of drunkards, who have a tendency to strike up conversation with passers by.  This usually strikes me as amusing, although sometimes it’s entirely misplaced: I think I might have given a few kids a complex a few weeks ago by bursting into tears when they asked me across the road what college I was from, and being told “I like your beret” by half a dozen men with broad accents who probably weigh twice as much as you each is naturally a little on the daunting side, but essentially perfectly harmless.  They’re trying to be clever for their mates.  I sympathise with anyone who makes an arse out of themselves in front of strangers, even if I wish they didn’t.  But the fact is that I’ve been on my own, and been talked to by drunks, and I’ve been with other girls, and been talked to by drunks, and I’ve also been with entirely boys and in a mixed group and the same thing’s happened.  So I’m not entirely sure about this one.

Equally, and here’s where I think the big problem is, I don’t think you can make the connection between ‘they’d only do it to a woman’, and, ‘therefore it’s a bad thing’.  There are plenty of things I’d only say to women: like complimenting them on their shoes in a queue, or randomly encouraging them to buy chocolate.  I’m all in favour of the philosophy that if you’ll say it to me, you can say it to my perhaps slightly misleadingly imposing 6′ 3″ boyfriend (sorry, dear) – and you can buy him a drink too, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind… but honestly, there’s something wrong with dressing like a whore but there’s also something wrong with going help! help I’m being objectified! when you feel in the slightest bit uncomfortable.  I don’t think it’s all a myth, not in the slightest, but I do think there’s very much a culture among the Modern Feminist Types to just assign any worry they feel in a given situation to any man participating in it.  That’s wrong, that’s unhealthy, and that’s only going to perpetuate a divide.

And anyway, think how much worse it would be if we didn’t have drunken social interaction with strangers.

(This isn’t to say that if you disagree with me you’re acting like this, it’s jsut vaguely relevant and besides I’m very conscious that that was a rant and I haven’t even got any socks to show you afterwards!)

Midnight December 11, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Law, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.

Essaying.  British folk on Lastfm.  Innocent smoothie (yes, I know, Coca Cola Company, but I needed comfort food).  Quite an extraordinary collection of candles and tealights.  Half a mug of cold coffee.  Half-finished sock (one row every hundred and fifty words, just to stop me jittering).  Four textbooks, and a very satisfactory wodge of paper.  Three colours of highlighter pen (yellow, green, orange).  Nail polish (green).  Seven separate Word documents open on my desktop, to say nothing of the PDFs.  Deadline, tomorrow, 4pm.  900 of 2500 words finished.

Oh yes, I remember this.  I remember this vividly.

This was going to be boring. December 9, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Craftiness, Knitting, Lovely people, Really good day, University.
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(Previously ‘This was going to be exciting’, because I’d taken photos for blogging purposes and then utterly failed to find the appropriate cable to upload them.  Cue wading through the Microsoft Paperclip’s online henchmen, and I’ve finally got my bluetooth working.  Victory!)

I do apologise for having abandoned you for so long.  There have been murmurings, my friend, murmurings.  Murmerings, particularly, of this nature:

Surely not!  No!  Could that possibly be- oh.  Oh, do you know, I think it might well be a pencil and paper and ball of wool, only a week or so down the line…  Are you excited yet??? I am.  And enjoying it immensely.  Fingers crossed, I will have something to show for it all in not very long at all – but as it is, the buzz I’m getting out of actually properly Designing, writing it all out and making illegible notes and doing everything from scratch, is unbelievable.  Mum’s right.  She never has to worry about me taking drugs.  I get high on air and yarn fumes.  (Incidentally, this is destined for somebody.  But I’m afraid you can’t have it til I’ve written it down so I can do it again.)

I’ve also got into colourwork! in the last week or so, which is similarly a pain in the backside, but was something I really wanted to have a go at.  And now I have…

…I think I’d forgive it anything, even the fiddle of two balls of yarn, even the frankly tiny needles, the knots, the lot.  It’s stunning.  This is Heather’s Mittens by Spilly Jane – whose work I have admired from afar for quite a long time.  If this all goes to plan, I’m going to try her Hedgehog Mittens in the new year, partly because they’re beautiful, but mainly, I have to admit, because the inspiration for them is… well, I’m not going to lie, it’s Nanny Ogg.  So there.

And when I have a moment to myself…

This wonderful swag (it’s alpaca, and gloriously soft) came from my wonderful trip to York with Captain Shakespeare* last week.  it was excellent.  We had tea and Fat Rascals at Little Betty’s, and spent ages in bookshops, and looking at buttons, and in the Christmas market.

“So Fiona,” you may say, “clearly you’ve been very busy.”  Well yes, yes, I have.  And why might that be?

Oh yes.  Essay procrastination.  And it was all going so well.

*Apparently he has decided upon codenames for all of us in his blog.  Therefore he deserves everything he gets!

One of those awful things December 4, 2009

Posted by Fiona in Big things.

I found out last night that someone I used to know committed suicide earlier this week.

When I knew him, we were pretty young – he was about three years older than me, I think, and we used to go to Children’s Church together.  We were the Ruling Majority of the three wise men one year in the Nativity play and he was really good with the younger ones.  I thought he was a lovely guy.

I hadn’t seen him in years, although his mum and my mum have been best friends for a long time, and I still see her at church when I’m at home.  A few years ago, he got addicted to drugs (something or other, I never found out what, exactly) and would disappear for a few weeks at a time, before turning up living rough in the middle of London.  When he died, he was in a centre to dry out and seemed to be making progress.  He threw himself under a train, not far from my local station.

My mum told me this on the phone yesterday evening.  I know his mum must have gone through who knows what over the last few years, I can hardly get my head around it.  I hope he’s somewhere better now, even if that somewhere is nowhere at all.

I mention this because I want to tell a few people but I don’t want to discuss it.  Also because what might have been is sad, sometimes, but what actually was is just the hugest thing, and you can’t get around it, or hide from it, or overcome it, and sometimes it just is that difficult to understand.  The boy is beyond everything, now, but I feel for his mum so much.