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Distractions May 18, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Durham, Knitting, Sheer bloody-mindedness, University.

Exams are well under way, and my ability to concentrate has gone the way of the sleepless nights once again.  My biggest worry right now is that I’m not doing myself justice, and no amount of Oh You’ll Be Fine is going to change that – I think it’s just the way of things.

I’m hampered slightly at the moment by the fact that there is a kids’ theatre troupe in the theatre this week (seeing as we aren’t using it) and they’re doing a production of Annie which opens tomorrow.  Imagine if you will, trying to get your head round the difference between entrepreneurship and providing services as explained haphazardly but at great length by the ECJ, to the glorious theme tune of It’s A Hard Nut Life. My room backs onto the auditorium.  I don’t like Annie at the best of times.

I’m taking an afternoon out to daydream a bit.  His Nibs and I got these when we were in Dorset over Easter:

I’m afraid I rather fell in love with them – and I know just what I want to do with them.  Now if only I could get these pesky exams out of the way…

The sock I said I’d started the other week has ground to a halt.  Unfortunately my tension the last week or two has got massively skewed, so I ended up having to go down two needle sizes so that the sock wouldn’t swim on me.  It turns out this is only a good idea for so long, and I’ve reknit the heel twice now and it’s still way too tight.  I want to shout it isn’t fair!  Why must my simple exam knitting go horribly wrong?  But I have decided instead, a little reluctantly, to put the damned thing in time out and work on something else in the few spare minutes I have.  There’s no reason to stress over it, not at the moment.  I’m having to reluctantly admit to myself that hey, they’re only socks.

It was my cousin’s wedding on Saturday, which was a welcome few days out.  I think I’ve made a new friend…

(Mum says I’m not allowed one yet and that I should ask His Nibs first.  On reflection, this is probably for the best.  Look at that arm, though!)

This has been your “I’m still alive, promise!” broadcast, May 2011.


Eurovision May 12, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Uncategorized.

On Tuesday night, I watched the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest.

If you’re in the UK, the concept of doing so is probably a little bit foreign to you: deliberately watching the acts that don’t even make the Eurovision final?  On purpose?  Without the added temperance of a bottle of wine and Graham Norton (who, it must be remembered, is good but shan’t ever be as good as Sir Terry)?  Eurovision, is, after all, something that if British people watch they do it with a sense of superiority.  European music is a bit like going back in time.  Don’t forget: we’re responsible for the Beatles.

I’m a bit of a Europhile in general: I think being part of the European Union is a great thing for the UK and the single market is a phenomenal piece of co-operation, no matter how much I’m currently regretting having to revise for an exam on it.  The EU is a fairly left-leaning organisation, and even if I don’t agree with it on everything I think what it’s trying to do is admirable and I utterly refute the idea that it’s trying to make Europe homogenous.  I’m perfectly secure in my national identity, thanks.

I would support the UK joining the Euro even though I’m well aware of all of the arguments against it.  (The Euro is like religion and tarot cards: the moment some types of people discover you subscribe to it, they suddenly seem to assume you’re a bit simple and just parrot what you’ve been told by People In Positions Of Authority.  Remember the Irritating Liberal?)  Personally, I think we should have joined the Euro in about 2007, but I can understand why we didn’t.  I think the ECJ needs a kick up the proverbial and a beginner’s course on the separation of powers and how to form sentences with fewer than ten clauses, but you can’t have everything.

Unrelated to all of that, though, I love Eurovision.  Yes it’s all political, everyone votes for their friends and We Get Saddled With The Cost (did you know this is the first time since the late 90s, I think, that Italy has had a Eurovision entry, and yet it still pays for quite a bit portion along with the Big Four?) but it’s one of those occasions that I love like I love Last Night of the Proms.  Last Night of the Proms is great because we get to sing Rule Britannia in our living rooms and feel kind of a little bit proud to be part of this sort of tradition.  Eurovision is the same only on a broader scale.  As a British person, as someone living in England, I don’t feel like a European very often and I think that’s very sad because that’s a hell of a lot of culture and all round good fun to miss out on.  It’s also very different to the kind of music I usually listen to out of choice, and generally hear every day, so that’s kind of refreshing.

On a personal level, I watch  Eurovision with people who know a lot about it.  They can name the last ten winners.  They met the production manager at a trade show two years ago and know what kinds of lighting desk are probably being used.  We play spot the techie, marvel at the sprinting abilities of the cameramen, discuss the layout of the green room.  (Did you know how they get all the instruments and bits of set and what have you in exactly the right place?  Several highly trained stage crews, and lasers from the ceiling.  Actual LASERS.)

We get a group of us over, eat dinner together, pile onto the sofa and rank the contestants based on how far they’ll go.  Tell each other how much better Spain’s entry was a year ago.  Gleefully gang up on the Dutch friend and wonder how on earth Switzerland managed to stay neutral if they present themselves as a nation like that.

This evening is the second semi-final, and we’re doing it again.  And that’s why I love Eurovision.  It’s idiosyncratic, there’s nothing else quite like it, and its idisyncracies fit quite well with mine.

The Irish entry still need a smack and a darkened room, though.

Going round again May 5, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Bwargh, Craftiness, Knitting, University.

It’s that time of year.

I seem to be alternating between being unable to sleep for more than three hours at a stretch, and being out like a light for twelve hours straight.  I’m also alternating between subsisting on cous cous and vegetables, and pigging out on bowlfuls of angel delight and bars of Dairy Milk.  My mood is swinging about the place too: one minute, I’m feeling like I have to be alone, and the next, I feel very lonely indeed.  That last is probably kind of related to the first two.  I keep telling myself: this too shall pass.

I don’t really want it to pass, either.

I cast on a sock this afternoon:

The yarn is Juno Fibre Arts Buffy Sock, and the colour is called ‘Seaspray’.  This is pretty accurate, but you can’t see the hints of green particularly well.  It’s such a subtle colour, I had such fun just winding it.

Unlike my usual plain exam sock – I have a pair of toe-up stocking stitch socks for every exam period for about the last three years – this one’s going to be patterned.  I felt like it.  It’s going to be Wendy Johnson’s Catnip socks which are everything I like: toe-up, easily customisable, lacy, with a simple repeat so I don’t have to carry the pattern round with me all the time.  I’m looking forward to them.

I’ve finished a pair of socks, too, in the last day or so – I’ll try and get pictures of them soon, they’re rather lovely.  Again, simple lace.  It’s amazing how comforting it can be sometimes.

It’s all hot and cold hereabouts.  I hardly know what to do with myself.

Captain Shakespeare and I went to see Bellowhead play last week.  They were phenomenal.  Quite possibly the best live act I’ve ever seen – the collective energy was amazing, they can work a crowd like nobody’s business but you just got the impression that they were enjoying themselves and just messing about.  There was spontaneous bursting into jigs, dramatic lunging with a banjo, and trying to make one of the violinists laugh from across the stage while he was doing a solo – as well as at several points the stealing of Jon Boden’s tambourine, whistle, tiny-drum-slash-wind-noise-thing and misc other small percussion instruments.

I’m sure I’ve said before that some musicians have a song that just resonates with me, that I adore above and beyond anything else they’ve done.  Interestingly, that song of Bellowhead’s is one that is very traditional and arranged by a lot of different people.  It’s also the first thing I ever heard them play, and it’s fantastic.  Therefore I’m foisting it on you.  Imagine a theatre full of people bawling their heads off at the words and clapping and stomping along.  What an atmosphere.

It’s never all bad.

Three sweaters May 2, 2011

Posted by Fiona in Big things, Craftiness, Durham, Knitting, Look what I did.


‘Harvest Moon’ by Heidi Kirrmaier. Wool/alpaca blend DK. Started on Christmas Day, knitted in Brighton and Lincolnshire and Dorset over the Christmas holidays. Grew disconcertingly when blocked so that the bottom of the yoke was around my elbows. Strengthened my resolve to get myself a dress form the moment I have somewhere to put it.


(Get off my) Cloud by Kate Davies.  Sock weight wool on 3.5mm needles.  (I can’t believe it either.)  Cast on at Larmer Tree Festival, Summer 2010 and knitted on constantly for the entire week.  Taken to my first Ravelry meet-up.  Hood finished over coffee and lunch with the girls in Durham.  I-cord edges knitted over two trips from home to university, alternated with a sock so I wouldn’t go out of my mind with the quantity of it.

Worn, finished, for the first time at my second ever Ravelry meet-up.


And this one’s mine.  (Wool/angora light fingering.  Conceived last summer.  Cast on last term.  Ripped back, cast on again, ripped back again, cast on again.  Finished a few weeks ago.  Currently being test knit.  More exciting than it looks, but the most interesting detail isn’t visible from this picture.  More to come.)