Saturday, 29 December 2012


Unlike last year I haven't home-made much for Christmas this year. But I did make this cushion cover for my sister to match her newly decorated living room. I invented the pattern myself and was very relieved that it worked as I only finished it two days before Christmas!

Christmas Cake Pops

When I left my last job I was bought a voucher for The Make Lounge.

I spent it on a Christmas cake pop decorating course and below are the results.

The tutor April made the pops for us and coated them in a layer of white chocolate. Her recipe and blog is here

 A basic pop
 a bit of marbling
 Half way through
 All finished. See the wine in the background? Provided as part of the course!

 My favourite
 Cute snowman
 Wrapped up and ready to gift (or unwrap and eat)
 Ready to go home
I haven't got around to buying anything to replicate these at home but it's good to know how easy thety are to make. I think Easter egg cake pops might be on the cards this year.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Map wrap

I rescued a 1972 road atlas of Great Britain from the recycle bin at work a few months ago fully intending to use it for lots of crafty projects. I've done very little so far, although I've pinned lots of overly ambitious projects to pinterest and I have a pretty great Christmas gift idea.

Yesterday though was my boyfriends birthday and while I don't know how much he appreciated it, I was very impressed by the wrapping of his gift.

 Card and book

 Bow made from the amazing route maps at the front of the atlas (also it's hard to wrap a guitar)

Birthday fun

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Flat Pack Joy

When my parents were divorcing my Mum's new house was fully furnished from Ikea. While I loved building the furniture and the ingenious methods by which it fitted together I also hated the shop. And mostly because this advert constantly rubbing salt into my adolescent wounds.

I have now grown older and wiser and my hatred has abated. And although most of my furniture is from freecycle I do love a trip to Ikea. Plus even when furniture has been in storage for 7 years they will still send you replacement parts! We now have a reasonable size table in our flat and can eat facing each other rather than the window. Plus two new step parents and a pair of step siblings later they were probably right. Happier families all round and stylish Swedish furniture. Everyone's a winner.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Personal training

I recently joined a new gym. It's close to work, cheap, contract-free and has loads of classes incldung a lunchtime spin class that nearly killed me. Having trained all summer for my half marathon I'm determined not to let me new-found fitness go to waste while it's too dark in the evenings to run. Except every time I go to the gym I'm confronted with this poster and it makes my blood boil.

I know some of it is me being over-sensitive. That despite how much I like and embrace the Health at Every Size agenda I still feel insecure in my body. That even though I can now run 13 miles continuously I still feel fat and foolish going to do exercise. And every time I see this poster that's what I feel- fat and foolish. And it's no accident. The whole premise of the poster is women are all fat and unnatractive and inherently worthless without other people's approval. All Ladies! need to Lose the Fat! Not just the overweight women- the assumtion is that every single woman in that gym will feel she needs to lose weight. And why? Because Christmas is coming. You're going to go to parties and wear sexy clothes and eat nice food. And it's such a sad state of affairs that instead of that being a good thing it's a cause of anxiety. Here it's a veiled threat- how dare you celebrate and look good and, god forbid, eat, when you are so incredibly fat and hideous. People will judge you and mock you and you can't possibly enjoy any of those things without other people's approval which you will only get when you Lose the Fat! (and pay a trainer lots of money). This advert isn't saying those things explicitly but it's using a shared language of understanding- the way women are meant to talk about and think about themselves- I'm so ugly, I'll never look good, I shouldn't eat nice things. And while this advert isn't responsible for those codes or attitudes, it is perpetuating them. And every time I visit the gym, every time I do something positive for my health that makes me feel better about myself I'm confronted by this advert telling me I'm fat and worthless. And it makes me angry.

Maybe though that's how they market to everyone? This isn't really a sexist poster suggesting women's only motivation for going to the gym is to look good for other people, it's how they treat all their customers. Or maybe not.

Men who go to the gym aren't universally assumed to be fat. They are strong, lean and fit and could be even stronger, leaner and fitter. Men you are awesome and could be even awesomer. Why oh why can't women be told the same thing? 

Saturday, 3 November 2012


Earlier in the year the lovely people at Stitch Balham taught me how to knit. But I still haven't really made anything yet. It just takes sooooo long compared to crochet and it's so hard to correct if you make a mistake. And since I moved house and can no longer go to the group I've done so much less craft of any kind so I've not go very far. But this is the start of a scarf. Fingers crossed I can get in finished in time for when the cold weather really sets it.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Perry and Posters

Do you ever have that thing where you notice something, or hear about it and suddenly it's everywhere? That's been happening to me a lot lately. I visited my boyfriends family home and met his parents for the fist time last weekend. Only six months after we moved in together, you know, not overdue or anything. On his bedroom door he has a poster, placed there when he was twelve or so and hasn't been moved in over 20 years. A list of instructions for living, shine your shoes, say please and thank you, never refuse a brownie an other phrases and sayings that when you're 12 seem profound. Less than a week later I found exactly the same list, this time accredited to a 95 year old man bestowing advice to his grandchildren, as opposed to poster designers coming up with lists of what would sell to impressionable teenagers, pinned to someone's inspiration board on Pinterest. The same advice, the same cheesy but reassuring homilies that life will be ok- you just need to eat more cake and mind your manners.

Another one of those things that's been popping up everywhere in my life is the Perry Preschool Project. A trial from 1960s America where they gave half of the group of poor black children pre-school and half not. And found over the course of the next 40+ years that although the educational benefits weren't lasting the social ones were: kids with pre-school had better relationships, less drug and alcohol problems, less arrests, less time in prison, less unemployment and earned more money. This research, which I should have been aware of in my line of work for several years has recently been popping up all over the place, on the website for my new job, at an All Party Parliamentary Group meeting I was lucky enough to attend recently and today, walking home, on an episode of the podcast This American Life. It's reinforced something I did already know, although I didn't have as much evidence as I should to back it up- that early years is the most vital time for children and where so much more of our time and resources and support should be going. And not just through pre-school but through parental support too. What happens to a child between conception and five is can set the course for the rest of their lives and we need as a society to make sure that is the best experience possible. Not just through better parenting and supporting parents to know what they should be doing (although that's important) but by addressing structural inequalities in our society that mean parents with the least money often have the least opportunities for positive parenting because of the other very real issues they're facing.

Preschool and parents who have the ability to be engaged and involved in their child's learning and development can transform a child's life chance. Children who are securely attached to their care giver, who know there is someone who can care for them and soothe them and protect them, some one who can teach them life lessons and support them, have the best start in life. Not all of life's lessons are are cheesy as the ones in the poster, but supporting parents to pass them on to their children should be everyone's priority.

As an aside- I've read that advice three tmes now- apart from the trees and the sunsets it's getting more and more profound each time.

Sunday, 1 April 2012


When I busted the ligaments in my ankle I wasn't able to get in and out of the shower. So I crocheted myself a flannel. And since then I haven't really stopped. They are easy, quick and really good for exfoliation.

I've made flannels for myself, my boyfriend, my mum and then even more for my mum and grandma for Mothers' Day.

My attempt at presentation
Toiletries and flannels for Mum and Grandma.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cut it out

A couple of years ago, shortly after I moved to London there was a big campaign on the tube advertising plastic surgery. I wrote to TfL to complain:


I am writing to comment/complain about advertising on the tube, specifically the advertising for plastic surgery.

I actually like the majority of posters on the tube. I like to be told about upcoming plays, I’m happy to be reminded about useful services such as insurance and welcome being told about charities and what I can to do help make the world a bit better. I resent strongly being told that my body is inadequate and would benefit from plastic surgery.

I find the recent adverts that have appeared all along the Northern Line (and very possibly other lines too) hugely offensive, offensive to me personally, offensive to women and offensive to people in general. I do not wish to be told on my way to and from work that I would be happier and more confident if I subjected myself to painful and potentially dangerous surgery, that my life would be vastly improved if only my breasts were the acceptable size. I find this message infinitely more offensive than the 15th century work of art used to advertise the Royal Academy that was banned from the underground last year.

I appreciate that this email will probably have very little impact on your policies for advertising but as I walked past the poster for the umpteenth time today and found myself getting angry again, I felt I had to do something, however small, to try and persuade people to stop making money by telling people they are unacceptable and cannot value themselves as people unless they spend vast amounts of money and attempt to conform to an unrealistic and unattainable idea of ‘beauty’.

Best wishes

Lizzie Poulton

As expected the response was a typically mealy-mouthed "sorry you felt offended but we aren't going to do anything about it".

I was really pleased to see that leading plastic surgeons and feminist organisation have got together to call for the regulation of plastic surgery advertising in the same way as prescription drugs ads are regulated. You can find out more and sign the petition here.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

More baby stuff

Although I try to avoid making blue things for boys and pink for girls sometimes it just works out that way. Below though is a blanket I made for a christening in purple cream and brown and I think it looks lovely.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Babies in crochet!

One of the best things for me about crochet is making things for other people especially when the people I'm making for are as cute as these babies.

Here's Nina in Sitges, Spain keeping warm in winter on the beach with her hat and blanket. Nina is the daughter of the beautiful Flavia and Gaby.

Natalie in Maine is the daughter of my prom date Anthony and his lovely wife Jess. Who not only have an awesome wedding dance but also an awesome baby.

And last but by no means least, here's Jamie holding Gideon who's all wrapped up in his blanket in Cheltenham.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Valentines Day

I got a bit over-excited about having re-discovered my sewing machine and decided to use it to make some valentines cards. I sent ones to my my family and gave one to my boyfriend.

I quite enjoy valentines day. My boyfriend less so, so this was his card. Happy arbitrary day of love!

In the same way I love Christmas without being religious I think anything that encourages people to be nice to one another and show that they care is a good thing. And yes I know rampant commercialism, why only appreciate someone on one day, making single people feel bad etc. etc. blah blah blah but I'm with the Oatmeal on this one.

Although from experience and talking to the girls at work I think xkcd has modern valentines day pretty much in a nutshell

xkcd valentines

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Classic Crochet

As part of home-made Christmas my sister found my stepmum a beautiful folder of vintage knitting patterns. Debbie already had this crochet book so donated it to me

I decided to make this stylish tie.

And here is Emerson modelling it beautifully

I also submitted it to the wonderful Helen Zaltzman's collection of #shitgift tweets. You can read the whole joyous collection here

Sunday, 29 January 2012


For my Dad and Step-Mum I made a granny square blanket. I love the colours and I like the way the different patterns worked out together. I couldn't decide how to edge it but the good people of twitter helped me decide and I went for red grannny stripe, brown granny stripe and then a red single crochet to finish. And I also enjoy the badly posed photos :-)