Friday, 9 December 2011

The Children's Book Tree, London

Support local children living in difficult circumstances this Christmas, by buying them a present of a book they'll really appreciate.

This year The Children’s Book Tree at Foyles Westfield Stratford City is working with Waltham Forest and Newham Young Carers organisations to give Christmas presents to local children. Children who will be spending their Christmas caring for others have put their book wishes onto a Christmas tree in Foyles at Westfield Stratford City. All you need to do is go in, choose a tag from the tree and then pick a book you think that particular child would enjoy. Then buy the book and leave it at Foyles. We will make sure it gets wrapped up and given to that child for Christmas.

If you'd like to take part but are unable to get to the store, call Foyles on 020 3206 2671 and a member of staff will select and take payment for your book.

Merry Christmas and thank you from all at the Children’s Book Tree and Foyles.

[Photo EmersonP]

Monday, 21 November 2011


Last year my flatmate started decorating for Halloween almost two months before the date and come October 31st the house was a real house of horrors. It was always a risk coming home late at night because you'd never know if a talking life size mannequin would have suddenly appeared to greet you. This year I planned to be completely Halloween free but a last-minute work event meant I needed a last-minute costume. I asked on twitter and Katie very cleverly suggested Medusa. Although I couldn't find any plastic snakes like she suggested, I improvised and with some pipe-cleaners, card and googly eyes from Hobbycraft I came up with a pretty impressive headdress if I do say so myself. The best bit is, if you shake your head the googly eyes make it sound like the snakes are hissing.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Christmas is coming

So all of my crocheting is making top secret presents! Hence the lack of posts. But I'm working hard. Here is my giant bag of wool to prove it.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Wedding Skulls

Last weekend I went to France to celebrate Lisa and Solal's wedding. I finally got the hang of the skull potholders and made them as a wedding gift.

The weekend was fabulous. Ariel and I travelled down from London to the little villiage in Normandy on the Friday. It took around 14 hours but was much more fun than I had anticipated. And who doesn't love a ferry?

The beach was beautiful, with and without instagram.

The wedding itself took place in New York last December. This was a celebration for European friends and family (and a few visiting Americans). Mussels, frites, wine and conversation at a restaurant on the beach as the sun set into the ocean.

The food was gorgeous (they even managed something vegetarian for me) and the restaurant amazing. We sat outside on the sand, they cooked meat over an open fire and the decor was...interesting. Impressive cross-stitch below

On Sunday everyone else went on/back to Paris. I was staying that evening and walked the 6k along the beach to the lighthouse at the end.

And travelling home on Monday I took some time in the local town to see the sights.

Vive la romance <3

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


One of the really exciting things about my new flat is that there is a garden. It's communal but nobody uses it except me. I had big plans when I moved in and started growing tomatoes, courgettes, strawberries and chillis from seed. But through a combination of laziness, incompetence, bad weather, bad luck and mystery predators my crop was somewhat smaller than anticipated. In fact all I got was this:

I decided the best way to make my hard work last was churtney and thanks to jars from the lovely Ms DeVil I was ready to go

Now I just have to wait 2 weeks to see how it turned out!

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Today we went to Highgate Cemetry. Although it wasn't planned this way it seemed an appropriate date to be there. In the beautiful sunshine surrounded by high victorian tombs borrowing from classical, egyptian, celtic and christian tradition it was hard not to be thinking about life and death and history and sacrifice and memorial. What I found most moving was the variety and inclusivity- jews buried next to christians; George Eliot's obelisk next to lesser known but, it seemed, no less loved contemporaries; Polish resistance fighters; music-hall stars; humanists and communists and a host of nationalities resting and remembered side by side. Particularly striking were those who were buried in London because they had been exiled from their own countries, whose views and actions and passion and bravery meant they ended their journey so far from where they began it. In the corner of the East Cemetery, in the shadow almost of the Karl Marx memorial was a group of graves with inscriptions in English and Arabic. Many with similar inscriptions to the one below:

All the dates that I saw for this group were late '90s. I couldn't help wonder what they'd think of the world as it is today. My own thoughts are too long and rambling but there is one thing I wanted to share: I'm proud to live in a world where so many people strive and have strived to make it a better place. I'm proud to live in a country where those who have been braver than I can ever imagine have been able to take refuge, I'm proud to live in a society where those with different beliefs and languages and customs can live side by side and lie side by side in death. The world is a scary, complicated place and in the last ten years has felt even more so and even more divided. I know nothing about Irving Edward Teitelbaum but I think he had it right- Integrity and Humanity. That's what I'm focussing on today.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

There's more to life than hair

I like Aussie hair products. They're a bit more expensive that I would normally stretch to but they smell amazing and work really well so if they were on offer or just as a treat I'd often splash out. I also liked their tag-line: “There's more to life than hair but it's a good place to start”. Unlike other products they were admitting that shampoo wasn't the most important thing in the world. To use some wanky marketing speak Aussie was a brand I related to; their target audience seemed to be women like me- women who like to look nice but have more important things in their lives than just their appearance.

On the tube on Friday night though I noticed this advert and suddenly I no longer wanted to be the kind of woman who bought Aussie hair products. And it seemed obvious I wasn't the kind of person Aussie wanted buying their shampoo either. Beacause it seems Aussie don't credit their customers with much intelligence.

(Click the image to make it big enough to read)

Aussie don't expect much of the women who buy their products. These women don't care about history (BORING), they care about astrology- although the concept of how astrology is supposed to work is a bit beyond them (Capricorn, Pisces whatever, lets get DRUNK). It seems there is indeed more to life than hair- there is also being thin and wearing shoes you can't walk in- great, thanks Aussie (woo-hoo!)

I don't know about you but I can think of loads of other things a woman could use as an excuse to celebrate that isn't just she's starved herself to be socially acceptable.
How about:
A promotion at work
Being accepted onto the course you wanted to study
Clearing your inbox
A successful meeting
The return of your favourite TV Show (even if going out means you're going to have to record it anyway)

And those are just the generic ones. For me personally I'm much more likely to celebrate finishing a difficult crochet project, completing my 50 book challenge, walking the whole of the capital ring or making a really good tortilla. But as I said, I don't think I'm the kind of woman Aussie wants to appeal to.

Which is good because I don't think I'll be buying their products any more.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

More blankets

The inside squares of this blanket are some of the first things I ever crocheted. The wool and hook were a gift my colleagues gave me for my birthday last year. Then when I went back to the shop I found out they'd run out of wool. First valuable crochet lesson learned: always keep the ball band. BuI found a way to use them anyway and although if you look hard you can see the mistakes I think it looks ok.

I connected the squares using a new technique to me (details here, via Maddy at Stitch Balham) I'm not sure it works, especially with the bigger squares but I was far too lazy to unpick and it's growing on me. Next time though back to the single crochet unless anyone has any other good suggestions.

Not sure what to do with the blanket now though- I was using it as a table cloth but my flat is starting to look a little too "crazy crochet lady". I guess the next person to have a baby gets it.

A Poem For Other Lizzie, My Sometime Sister

We reflect each other
Crafted by the same matriach,
Sharing the same touchstones:
Norwich spires and waterfront
Two sides of the same triangle.

But in each other we see more than a reflection,
See in each other our deficiencies made ample:
The confidence
The figure
The order
We each lack.

And even though the mirror's cracked,
It's hard to reach through.
I can't make you whole-
You can't make me shine

But together we can be strong.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


Maddy at Stitch Balham sent me the link to this video. I love it and fell in love with the little apple in its jacket.

I saw they were being sold on etsy so assumed a pattern wouldn't be available and made one myself. Then I discovered that the pattern could be found on the Molly Makes website and made a proper one. I need to buy more buttons and sizing isn't quite perfect yet but here are my apples in there jackets. I appreciate this is somewhat ridiculous but still so darn cute!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Dinosaurs and evolution and religion and cake

Yesterday Emerson and I went to see the dinosaurs in Crystal Palace. As is often the way I ranted at him about a lot of things and he listened and made excellent and constructive comments and agreed with me, humoured me and challenged me. I had been all a bit grumpy that morning and it was exactly what I needed. Coincidentally that morning I had been looking at various things about evolution. Firstly this via Ben Goldacre about Miss America.

The fact this is even asked as a question bothers me. Now I don't understand science. I don't understand how things work, and I have yet to meet a person who can explain to be how we know a lightbulb gives out light rather than sucks in dark. But I love that there are people out there who do understand science. Things I don't remotely understand have put people on the moon, allowed a magnetic strip to pay for my shopping and mean that anyone with an internet connection can read my ramblings. Although it's still important to try understand and also continue to be inquisitive and questioning I remain very ignorant. But I know that the world I live in today is only possible because the scientific establishment has made it so. And if I trust science enough to fly in a plane without it falling from the sky I'm going to have to say yes to Evolution. Next year maybe they can ask Miss USA if germ theory should be taught or it should be replaced by the idea that disease is a punishment from God?

And talking of germ theory, have you been to see Dirt at the Wellcome Collection? No? Then you should. And afterwards I can bore you at length about it's implication on religion :-)

Continuing along the science and evolution theme I read this yesterday. A scientist's response to a little girl who has been brainwashed into creationism. It's beautiful and I love the part about good and bad questions.

"You already knew the answer to the "Were you there?" question, but you don't know the answer to the "How do you know that?" question. That means the person answering it will tell you something you don't know, and you will learn something new. And that is the coolest thing ever"
That's something I want to do more of- ask questions where I genuinely don't know the answer.

After the dinosaurs we wandered around Crystal Palace and saw amazing veiws and bought second hand books and ate Brazilian cake and ranted about religion. I found myself, again, going on and on about how amazing the podcast of A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum is. I'm only half way through and I'm a better person for it. And a global, millenia-long history of human society and belief has been very helpful for my poor little religion addled head. And simlarly to the science thing- I am so glad and so grateful to live in a world where intelligent people have learnt so much and recorded and shared so much.

And while I'm banging on about sharing and humanity and how glad I am to be alive, I went to see this last week. It was epic and beautiful. Go see it if you can.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

With added cake

Secret Birthday Project

There haven't been any posts here lately for two reasons:
  1. I've moved house and getting my internet connected was a ridiculously convoluted process involving having to register my address with Royal Mail
  2. I haven't had much crochet to show as I spent a full month working on a top secret birthday project for my sister. Results are below

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Cake stands

Inspired by the lovely people over at SW Craft Club.

Plates and glasses from Balham charity shops and my Dad.

Glue gun bought for me by the Catalan love of my life.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


Last night I played along with Poejazzi's twitter instructions to write a poem. It was a lot of fun and inspired me to be more creative that I usually would be on a Monday night. Instuctions for each verse were tweeted at five minute intervals with time at the end for editing before submitting it to them. I'm not completely happy with the poem-partly because the instructions given meant I ended up repeating things and taking it in directions I wouldn't have otherwise and partly because I never am- but I'm happy I did it.

Also I've tried and tried to find an image of the statue I'm talking about in the poem. We have it by the fireplace at my Dad's house and it's the second one we've had. I assumed they were reasonably common but Google disagrees. So you'll just have to imagine.


As the sun loses it's force and the colours dim
I sit adjusting.
You watch me
and glint.
My knight.
The gold takes on a deeper hue
emanates rather than reflects.
You guard the fire place
keep my memories safe
remind me of the years I've cycled through while you've stayed
thirty centimetres high
sometimes dull, sometimes gleaming, always there.

I fell once
landed on the corner of the fire place
the brick gouging my forehead
opening my eye
blood crying down my cheek.
You were taller then
and you watched
and reflected back the red
trickling down your armour.
But today only I bear the scar.

Outside the gravel crunches.
The cat returning home,
or foxes investigating the bins
(no hot ashes but there is a chicken carcass)

Or maybe it's him, returning home.
Shame faced?
Glaring or in glory?
We don't investigate.
I sit.
You stand.
Statue still.

But what if he's not alone?
What if he's brought company?
How many feet is that crunching?
And what would I do? How can I have this conversation with someone else there?
(Except you
You are always there
cold and reflecting
and scarless.)

She can see me
see in through the window
although it is dusk and I haven't turned on the light.
And I am there
just sitting
just still
just waiting.
And she wonders if I know,
and if she should feel guilty.

She shouldn't.
I don't care.
Or I do
but I can't show it now.
Everyone just acts the best way they know how
in their own circle
and sometimes that fits together like cogs linking hands
and sometimes there are better wheels to turn
And sometimes the wheel stops and it's beyond your control.
So we sit
You and I
Statue still.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Another blanket

Holiday Traditions.

So I wrote this, got depressed and decided to go and visit my sister this weekend. But as I've not posted for a while I thought I'd put it up anyway. Apologies- it really is ramblings...

So Sunday is Easter.
And I have no idea how I'm supposed to be celebrating.
I honestly can't remember what we did as a family when I was younger.
Essentially not that much. Growing up with two parents who had long since rejected the religion they had been indoctrinated into as children, it was never a cause for celebration.
I do remember one year searching in vain for Easter eggs in the back garden after my friend had told me the Easter bunny left her chocolate in hers. My parents unfortunately had no forewarning- just a crying eight year old who had found nothing but molehills.

When I was in America the church I attended with my host family was swamped on Easter Sunday. And the week following Pastor launched a scathing attack on those who saw religion as a twice a year thing. Easter in America was a hot, stuffy church service and a meal for 40 family members involving large amounts of mashed potato and several screaming children.

This year I'm conflicted. The casual blasphemy that I hear all around niggles. Although I don't and can't believe in the God I was pressured into loving in America I can't reject it all entirely. But it's not something I want to celebrate. I don't want to be a part time Christian that Pastor George so resented. I don't want to just accept the nice bits and ignore the rest of it (even if years of study/deprogramming has taught me that is an unavoidable part of interpreting a book that has two mutually exclusive creation stories in the first three chapters).

Christmas brings out the crazy in me a little less. I'm comfortable with the fact that Jesus existed and I'm happy to acknowledge the birth of one of the most influential men in history. And the original pagan routes of the celebration appeal much more strongly. Also Christmas to me is all about family, it's about giving and love. Easter on the other hand was only ever about chocolate. And normally disappointment. That I didn't have enough, or I was too greedy to make it last. And later, after the brainwashing, it was about a man who died for my sins who I totally rejected. It was about the last bit of Christianity that I couldn't accept.

As it's not a family celebration I'm not seeing anyone. In fact I expect to spend the day pretty much alone, probably moving some stuff across to my new flat and cleaning where I'm currently staying and eating myself into a chocolate and wheat coma. Lent is one bit of Christianity I get. And one of the only ways I have any will power. Although since giving up chocolate and all things wheat I have essentially just replaced my 4p.m. sugar-crash chocolate/cake/biscuit with toffee popcorn, so it possibly hasn't been a complete success.

I think next year though I'm going to plan it a bit better, think of a better way to celebrate, or maybe try to find something I'm comfortable with celebrating.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

A poem for Hannah, now we are grown ups

When we met we were starting out on our own
We were showmen
We were shamans
We'd leap out of bed, transform from pyjamas to party clothes
We'd spend hours drinking tea and learning lines and dancing

I've known you from root to tip
Through the different lengths of your hair
You remember parts of me I've forgotten
We colour in each others back-stories

In Barcelona sunshine
In Norwich clubs with our feet stuck to the floor
In London Fields and London's Parks
In love, in a way, I suppose

And now we are grown ups
I suppose, almost,
With real jobs
And boyfriends
And flats of our own

And I am so happy for you
And so sad for me


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Sunday, 10 April 2011

Wrong Skulls

Sometimes it just doesn't turn out right. You don't follow the pattern exactly, the tension's all wrong. These don't look how they should. But it's all good practice I guess.