Wednesday, 24 September 2008

I went, I saw, I bent over

Pilates. Short. Slow. Not bothering again.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

no clutter, no cry

I'm finally making progress. I have filled my g-plan (yes, I said plan) with buttons and ribbons and yarns, oh my. I have a clear floor in my room/office/studio (yuck)/den/space. I am not the tidiest woman on the planet but I do love a good sort out. In fact, I can spend a great deal of my time sorting out rather than actually doing stuff.

I am now the proud creator of 3 gadget socks - woolly bags for phones/ipods/psps/ds's. I am planning to sell these at our local school fair. I have also created 4 crochet scarves, a pair of HUGE baby socks and some crocheted corsage flowers. I have been telling myself that I need a plan for my first foray into retail but, guess what, I don't have one. I have been flicking through my comprehensive collection of knittng magazines (that sentence in itself is a worry) and then trying to match patterns with my comprehensive collection of yarn. Needless to say this results in some quite unusual experiments. Nothing I make is the size the pattern says it is going to be.

I should make tension squares. Every knitting pattern in the world includes instructions to make a tension square. I would like to conduct a survey to discover how many knitters EVER knit a tension square. I don't do it mainly because I don't like the phrase tension square - it makes me think I should worry about knitting and, let's face it, knitting is simply wrapping wool around needles and making rows of knots. That shouldn't be worrying, at all.

I started a new course yesterday - I have enrolled on 'textiles and multimedia' at Cirencester College which is located in a castle. I've never been in a castle unless it was on an outing and it was amazing to sit in a room with proper castle-like windows. We had to sketch and make and generally get going quickly as the sessions are only two hours long. Having been used to long leisurely days of the art course at Swindon it was all a bit of a blur. We did have to spend a significant amount of time, however, thinking about hazards and health and safety. There wasn't a body among us who was under thirty. Methinks the world has gone mad.

I'm just off to Swindon to return the lovely library books I've had the good fortune to have over the summer. I shall miss that library - fantastic magazines and periodicals.

The rest of the day shall be spent writing, writing, writing.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

matters in my own hands

The last week has involved sitting, knitting, sniffing and watching my dear E breathe. She suffers from random, quite infrequent asthma attacks but when she gets one, does she get one. It's quite sobering watching your children breathe. It may sound a little hysterical but there are occasions when they don't sound as if they're going to, particularly in the middle of the night.

I am lucky to have a very patient and very caring neighbour, H, who used to be a nurse and who kindly came to watch E breathe one evening at about 11pm. It can be difficult to know when to panic. Fortunately I didn't need to.

I didn't leave the village between Sunday night and Thursday morning apart from a visit to the local health centre. I bought a G Plan sideboard for my wool on Thursday and two winter coats on Friday. There seems to be a direct correlation between feelings of claustrophobia and inappropriate spending. I must watch out for that. I did need coats though - I am still wearing my parka and, now I'm nearly 41 I get more funny looks a) it's not from Boden b) it's not a Barbour c) I look like a teenage boy with wrinkles in it d) it has an orange lining.

My new coats are a) very red and very seventies b) navy, quilted and a bit seventies. I'm sure I'll still get funny looks.

I went out today to try to convert non-knitters to the yarnside. Sometimes I marvel at my nerve. Whilst trying to nab bargains for their pre-schoolers and bumps, several NCT members were approached by me and asked about knitting. As random as this sounds, most of them were interested. Admittedly a couple of them looked at me as if I'd offered them a dram of malt whiskey at 11am on a Saturday morning but, some, even some men, said they might give it a go.

Yippeee!!!! My evil yarn plan is working.

Must go, we have our second round of visitors arriving this afternoon. This week - spiced chicken thighs with roasted veg and a warm spinach salad followed by apple crumble (again). The whole thing has to be arranged around Strictly. Strictly is sacred in our house. I'm not sure whether the visitors will agree but they are going to be lured into the living room with snacks and then subjected to Brucie and Tess and Gary Rhodes who has my vote for 'most likely to be a dancing demon'.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

unemployable, moi?

I've applied for two jobs in the last two months and haven't been shortlisted for either. As the Libran that I am, I feel two conflicting emotions about this.

Emotion #1. I am useless, unemployable, unwanted and unable to write a CV or an application letter.

Emotion #2. The universe is telling me that I must focus on what I love - the knitting, the writing, the crafting, the nattering and the obsessive compulsion to make sure every sock in our house knows where its other sock friend is.

My unemployability was countered with a letter outlining all the lovely things I need to take to my textile course which starts next Monday - more shopping opportunities at art shops. I know that this isn't the response Tracey Emin experienced when studying for her BA, but hey, I'm starting late and any validation of the time I like to spend cruising the sketchbook section at my local art shop is fine by me. Luckily, the course is in Cirencester, home to one of the best shops I know, the name of which escapes me.

I have chosen my course for several reasons:
- I will have to leave the house on Mondays, thereby immediately reducing the risk of Monday Morning Inertia (MMI) which can transpose itself to a week long moan and groan
- I get to go to Cirencester which means I can combine intellectual and artistic pursuits with a Tesco shop should I need to
- I get to go to Cirencester which also means I can visit the Brewery Arts Centre regularly too

We had a dental crisis yesterday. E was complaining about her toothache immediately after consuming her 3 weetabix. As it's the first week of term, I assumed that this was simply a 7 year old attempt to waft about at home watching cbeebies and reading the argos catalogue. After several minutes of wailing I decided to call her bluff.

'I'll take you to the dentist and he'll say it's an ulcer and then you can go back to school.'

Hmmm. Then came my comeuppance. Poor E has a huge infection where her proper tooth is pushing at her baby tooth. It was revolting, particularly on the state of the art camera which our dentist has invested in. If there was such a thing I would nominate our dentist for 'gadget dentist of the year'. Whilst investigating E's mouth with a dental camera he was wearing some kind of headgear resembling the kid from 'Meet the Robinsons'. I am married to a man who calls his blackberry a blueberry. I find men who love gadgets interesting in the way David Attenborough finds rare spiders interesting. Anyway, now I know to listen to my daughter. She was right.

I am at the library at the moment with J who is beavering away on his 'what is art' project. He's sat next to me having a good old browsing moment.

The family that googles together stays together?

Thursday, 11 September 2008

things to make and do

I am having an appreciative moment (as, you may note, originally planned in projectforty). Here are ten things I'm appreciating:

- not having a proper job

- being delusional enough to think my mad ideas are worth something

- not having a husband who insists on a tidy house and/or ironed shirts

- having children who will, on occasion, delight in having breakfast for tea when I'm feeling so hurried by my non-existent job (!)

- having the wherewithal to buy wool (or rather the beloved's wherewithal) almost at will

- being in possession of a room that might be called my own

- it's not raining today (yet)

- not having a sore back

- being the cultivator of a wildlife garden (unmowed, unpruned, unmanicured)

- having a breadmaker (50p per credit crunch loaf instead of £1.10 in the supermarket and therefore more wool money)

I know they're random, but they're mine. All mine. Sometimes I just need a little bit of random nonsense. Don't we all?

I'm at Wootton Bassett Library waiting to try out WB Leisure Centre. The last time I went to WB Leisure Centre I developed an ear infection. I have a forgiving nature. I'm giving it another whirl three years later. I had a little wander after doing a favour for a friend (you know who you are) and the library is the busiest place in town!

There's me, a man three seats up who is making a funny grumping sound every few seconds and a lady to my right who is typing away like a wild, e-fuelled secretary. She's great. I'm trying to type as fast just to make her go faster!

Perhaps I do need to get a proper job.

A final question: what happened to the 9pm watershed for Channel 4's 'Sex Education Show'? It's all very well telling us all that the nation's teenagers are watching revolting stuff on youtube but do we need to hear about it when we're tucking into Tuesday night's supper?

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

back to school

Well, the first day was last Thursday but this week is really the beginning of term and the first whole week.

I finally got the smell of goat out of my favourite suitcase - I'd foolishly used it as the dirty laundry container at the glampsite. My room (or studio as G, rather irritatingly has christened it) is now painted. J has had his first day at secondary school and has survived. I'm sure his voice has lowered and he's being very, very grown-up. He literally ran out of the house on Thursday morning, desparate to escape his fussing parents. I don't know who was more bereft myself or the lovely G.

I had a lovely day on Friday with my dear friend, S. We went to Compton Verney ( which I'd heard described (rather unfairly as it turned out) as the most pompous gallery in the United Kingdom. My only complaint? The longish walk from the car park in the rain up to the main house. I'm sure it's beautiful in summer sun but not in relentless Warwickshire drizzle. We saw an exhibition called the Fabric of Myth, exploring the myths of Arachne and all sorts of other gorgeous goddesses and how the cutting, unravelling, attaching and spinning of thread and yarn is carried through in many artists' work.

You probably had to be there to enjoy it but there was a great section on textiles being used to explore and break down feelings of or actual incarceration and another of how found textiles are used to express loss and memory.

On the third floor was a great exhibition of folk art which I'd never really seen as a body of work before. Loads and loads of ideas popped into my head. Unfortunately we had to go to Tesco on the way home though so my ideas were dissolved by thoughts of butter and milk and whether we should have chicken or beef for lunch on Sunday. Hey, ho!

I've also been to my first knitting event. Oooh it was marvellous. I took the 8.55am train to Londinium and arrived back at my nearest market town at 8.55pm after spending the whole day thinking, breathing and, of course, buying wool, yarn, books about knitting, more wool.

I went to the second Iknit event at the Horticultural Halls ( Those guys have really got it sewn up. They got together some great stalls, some fantastic speakers, the Yarn Harlot amongst them and kept all those knitters happy for eight hours long.

I loved it. I want to go again.

This week, so far, I've been to the gym and for a swim and I've watched the rain. I'm contemplating a quick trip to Get Knitted right now just to cheer myself up but I have a horror of driving on motorways in the rain.

Monday, 1 September 2008

pinch and a punch

It's the first meteorological day of winter today. How do I know this? It's just like yesterday. It's raining and it's dark and it's sooooo cold.....

Since I last blogged we've been to Liverpool - loved the Klimt at the Tate. The kids thought he was smutty - they don't do nudity yet. I spent the rest of the morning in the equally good 20th Century exhibition answering the question 'Why's that art then, mum?', posed by my nearly 11-year-old. I'm still trying to sort that one out for myself.

After the city delights of the Albert Dock, we mosied on up to our glampsite in the Forest of Bowland. Thank the heavens for satnav. We would still be looking for it. We visited a Featherdown Farm ( and it was fantastic despite the fog and the drizzle and the inability of anyone to bring us a meal in under 30 minutes.

We had a lovely few days boiling an enormous kettle, lighting candles, setting fire to tea towels and pretending to be able to watercolour. I, rather incongruously had brought a book called 'The Other Hand' by Simon (Andrew?) Cleave which I loved but its refugee/fleeing/terror theme didn't really sit well with the more Bronte-esque surroundings in which we'd found ourselves.

We took ourselves off for a walk, accompanied by the supposedly expert walking book written by Lancashire's ramblers. We got lost. We were doing beautifully until a bemused farmer told us about a short cut. We should have known. It was wonderful in a slightly scary way. There was a moment when I thought we might not be able to see our way to the end of another bleak field without tripping over an angry bullock. We managed though and tomato soup has never tasted so delicious.

We're home now and I've rediscovered electricity in a big way.

Knitting at the pub tomorrow and back to school on Thursday. Yippee!