Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ribbon Twist Jumper

Today I had a complete day off, which I really needed. I lit a fire early, then watched Sabrina, an Audrey Hepburn film, and then a couple of Fireflys, while I knitted the collar and sewed together my ribbon twist jumper.
I just had enough wool!
Meg was very happy to have my company today, especially with the fire, and at 3 o'clock we lay together on the couch and slept for two hours. A perfect day, which reminds me: I want to buy the score for Perfect Day by Lou Reed so I have a song I can play and sing at the same time. Walking in the Air is too high and seasonal.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I'm losing track of days here as Hagos comes and goes on and off tour. And on 26/3, whichever day that was, the band he's on tour with played in Norwich, and Vicky and I went along to see them. As always I stood behind Hagos at the mixing desk, especially as he said the crowds were usually lively, and a couple of nights previously had broken through the security barrier at the front of the stage, which then had to be replaced by bulky security guards! But, true to Norwich's innate lack of fuss, the crowd merely punched the air, did a little bit of jigging on the spot, and threw two or three plastic cups of water/beer across the room. Very civilised.

I really enjoyed watching and hearing Hagos mix again though, because he's so good at it. I love listening to the tweaks he does and the effect it has on the sound. I could go on and on: I am his no. 1 fan. His mixing, and musicianship, have always impressed me, because he manages to infuse what he does with his personality, whatever he's doing - it sounds like him.
I recently, and in three days, read Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, by Winifred Watson. I wasn't quite in the mood for it when I read it, however, it struck me as being a female version of Jeeves and Wooster, by PG Wodehouse. It was an easy read, and fun in places. I was most touched by the ending, when she thought her Cinderella day was over and had, literally, nowhere to go. No home to go to, no job, no money. I thought that was very sad. Gladly it was to be a happy ending and her new friends didn't abandon her, and she was even offered a grand new life, and a grand new home, and a handsome beau to court her.
So this weekend I'm preparing for Monday, and am planning to relax and rest as much as possible. It was raining here this morning when I went out for the paper, so I left my umbrella to dry on the kitchen floor. Later I fed Meg her lunch (after she'd bitten me two or three times for not being quick enough about it), and afterwards I couldn't find her anywhere. Then I saw her sitting as far under the umbrella as she could get. She looked so funny. But of course, when I went to get the camera to photograph her she moved. I just missed it.

I have no crafty stuff to show at the moment. In the evening, as I rewatch Firefly, I am tidying up the ends of the crocheted squares so I can finish my cushion cover. But it is happening at a snail's pace. How much I get done depends on me being cat-free as I lie on the couch, which is only about 5% of the time.

But FIREFLY - what a great series. I love it. Everyone should watch it, and we should restart that petition to get Fox to recommission it. Let's pretend the film (Serenity) never happened in a Bobby - Ewing - just - stepped - out- of - the - shower - and - it - was - all - a - dream kind of way. Yay.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I don't recognise myself in photos these days. Hagos assures me I look better in real life than I do in photos. Maybe it's because I'm overweight I look like I have a big jowly face?

Anyway, I feel better after my blue period, which only lasted a day.

I'm off work this week and it feels such a luxury to be at home with Meg, going
to the gym and pottering around with my many projects. I finally got the house under control yesterday so can enjoy the place. My neighbours are away too, so it's beautifully quiet.

Meg and I slept in this morning until 10.30am! And I felt great when I got up. I always have particularly restful sleeps when Meg is beside me.
On Saturday night I went to my friend's house for dinner; then on Sunday morning I went to my all-time favourite coffee shop in Norwich, Expresso's. Afterwards I walked to the bookshop and bought some books, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, by Winifred Watson, The Reader, by Bernard Schlink, and Behind The Scenes At The Museum, by Kate Atkinson. On Saturday I also went to the library and took out On Chesil Beach, by Ian McEwan and December, by Elizabeth Winthrop. I feel a keenness to read contemporary fiction again. Or, fiction that is currently popular.

And now I'm drinking a small bottle of red wine and working upstairs.

It's Keigan's 2nd birthday today. I bought him a Thomas The Tank Engine costume, similar to the one below, except it has a black cap. I hope he likes it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This is the colour I'm feeling after finding out I didn't get an interview for a job I applied for in Edinburgh.
Though I was ambivalent about it because it was full-time, and working full-time in a normal job doesn't suit me.
But anyway, I was willing to do it so we could move from Norfolk. I feel like Father Jack when he wakes up sober: "Don't tell me I'm still on that fecking island." [Father Ted]

And Hagos went back on tour today after having two days off, so I'm adjusting to that.

And my Canadian aunt died this week, and my beautiful cousin has terminal cancer.

And I'd really like to make personal progress.

* * *

Fortunately simple things make me smile. Such as looking out of the window on a lovely spring day and seeing Meg sleeping in a pile of coal. What a cat.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crochet chic

A sudden URGE to crochet. When I already have too much to fit into today and woke up panicking about how I was going to manage it all.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How to lose weight

I've been a stone and a half overweight for a loooonng time. And now that Hagos is on a five week tour I thought it would be a good opportunity to shift it.

I've lost weight using this method before. Essentially I can eat fish, vegetables, fruit, soup, salad, porridge and beans, also a little bit of brown rice and occasional wholewheat pasta. I don't eat bread, sweets, chocolate, cakes, white pasta or white rice.

Three of the very helpful companies/products I use are: Covent Garden Soup Company; Innocent Smoothies; and Tropical Wholefoods fruit bars - because they all contain fresh ingredients and no crap whatsoever. The fruit bars are a lifesaver sometimes. They take the edge off a sweet craving.

And I go to the gym.
It's day one and I've done well so far. Part of the trick of this working is to be prepared! and to substitute all the crap I eat with healthy things I like. I love everything I'm now eating. And not to go hungry.

I'll report back in five weeks' time!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


It might be worth putting the kettle on before you start reading, because this could take a while.

Yesterday I cut out and prepped a few things to sew today. The first thing I made was the toiletries bag and headband for my work colleague, Jo.

The material comes from Goodness in Japan. Jo is completely mad about elephants so I expect she'll love her present. I was really pleased with how it turned out. I still have to add cord and a toggle to a couple of the things I made, but you get the idea.
This stunted little bag is made along the same principles as my toiletries bags, except it's foreshortened (that word makes me laugh) and I lined it with the Oxford cotton.
It will eventually be sent to my friend Leonie who is due her second baby at the end of March, and it will contain two pairs of knitted baby shoes, and two pairs of knitted baby socks. I did the same when she had her first baby a couple of years ago, except I knitted the bag as well. Making stuff for other people is only worthwhile if they really appreciate the thought and effort, and she did. Cord and toggle to be added later. I've knitted the two pairs of shoes and one pair of socks already, just have to sew them up, and I'll leisurely knit a second pair of socks in the evenings.
I really felt in the mood to sew this weekend, and as I was making Jo a toiletries bag and headband I thought I really should make one for my other colleague, Katie. The three of us cover each other's work when we're on leave etc. And Katie is really cool. Cord and toggle still to be added here too. I hope she likes it. Material is Kaffe Fassett.
Phew, I really have been busy. The headband on the left is to be put with the toiletries bag I made before Christmas and will be given to my friend Julie for her birthday (which isn't till June, but I wanted to prepare it in advance because I think I may soon be busy with other things). And the headband on the right is for me and matches my recently-made make-up bag. Both bits of material are Amy Butler.
And this is something I'm very pleased with. It's Hagos's toiletries bag. I really like it. I hope he does too. Material is Amy Butler.
This funnily-shaped thing is my new peg bag! I've been needing a peg bag for ages, since Hagos bought me my great new pegs. I searched through my piles of spare fabric and couldn't decide, then I came across this Kaffe Fassett Daisy Green and realised it was perfect. It didn't matter that the fabric wasn't square, in fact I think it adds to the design. I lined it with the same waterproof material I use for my toiletries bags, mostly to add shape and strength.
It's hanging up on the shoe rack next to the front door, ready for action.
And just because I couldn't stop making things, I made these gift tags. I rather like them.

I'm looking forward to writing, gyming, and food shopping for healthy food tomorrow.

And looking forward already to seeing Hagos on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Two Day Holiday

Hagos has gone off on tour again today. I dropped him at the train station this morning for him to travel to Sheffield . It's felt a bit strange, this last week, preparing for him to go away again, because he's had four months off touring, and we both got used to him being at home, and working at home during that time. Even though we've been doing this lifestyle for 20 years.

So this weekend I've decided to give myself a two day holiday. I always rattle around the house feeling lost when Hagos first goes away, so I've set myself up for a weekend of things I enjoy, before I get back to work myself on Monday.
First of all I headed to John Lewis just to look. I couldn't resist the Debbie Bliss cotton in the first photo. The colours are just so beautiful. I don't exactly have a plan of what to do with them, but I might make face cloths with them.

I also bought some of my favourite Oxford Cotton material, and a cushion, to put it all together with my crocheted squares to make a cushion and cover for the chair in our living room. I've been feeling an urge to crochet again recently. The squares look great together, I think, and it will be nice to have a soft cushion to rest on and to cheer up the room.

I'm also very excited because Hagos has given me permission to make him a new toiletries bag. He pulled out his old one last night when he was getting his stuff ready to go away, and it looked very old and all the lining has broken up. Usually he declines my numerous offers to make him anything (a new jumper? hat? gloves? socks? toiletries bag?) but finally he's agreed. I will pull out my stash of fabric and choose an appropriate blend of pattern and colour. Nothing flowery, maybe polka dots, maybe some Kaffe Fassett stripes. We'll see.
For the rest of the weekend I also plan to: play the piano, read, write, sleep, watch The Piano (film by Jane Campion) and set up the house ready for me to work on Monday.

I'm now learning the 2nd half of page 2 of The Heart Asks Pleasure First. The double bass clef! It's incredibly beautiful and deep and rich, and I love when the top bass clef reverts to a treble clef. It's exquisite. I'm so lucky that I enjoy so many things.

I also received a wonderful package in the post on Friday, which contained elephant material from Goodness in Japan. I'll update more about that later.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today in music class I learned...

I finally decided to attempt the 2nd half of page 2 of The Heart Asks Pleasure First. I listened to the tune, learned the bass clef, but couldn't get the treble clef to work. Thankfully without spending too much time on it I asked Hagos's opinion, and he pointed out there was now a bass clef where the treble clef usually is, and that I should treat the top clef as a bass clef also.

What a revelation!

I saw the bass clef on the top stave but managed to ignore it and press on regardless. So now the tune sounds divine - lovely and bassy and deep - so beautiful.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Helping my writing

No, hold on - sleeping on the computer, I think I mean hindering my writing.

Eh, more toiletries/make-up bags

I've been wondering about my obsession with making toiletries bags, and I think it may be because they're fairly easy to make (after a bit of trial and error), and more importantly, because they show off the different fabric I like to such great effect. The above bag is a make-up bag for myself. The toiletries bag I knitted for myself a couple of years ago has to combine as a make-up bag when I go away anywhere, so I could do with separating them out. I love the yellowness with a touch of pink of the Amy Butler material, and I love the Martini design. It's one of my favourites ever.
And this is something I've had in my mind to make for a few months. I first saw Carla Miller's blue Fossil material on Cottonpatch's website. I really liked it, and thought of making myself a skirt from it, but then my skirt-making obsession was spiralling out of control so I made myself stop. Anyway, it was my friend Vicky's birthday, oh, way last year - October I think. And I thought it would be cool to make her a toiletries bag in the fossil fabric because she's an archaeologist but when I went onto Cottonpatch's website to order it was no longer available. I eventually found it online at Sew Creative Wroxham Barns, just up the road in Norfolk, so I ordered it online. I finally got round to making it last night when I needed a little absorbing project.
I wasn't at all sure of the material when it arrived. I like bright and beautiful colours material, and this seemed rather dull. I even wondered if the printing was out of register, as it seemed quite fuzzy. Well, I made it up, and I like it much better and think it's quite effective as a bag. I'll give it to Vicky next time I see her and hope she likes it.

I think I might make up a few spare toiletries bags and set up an etsy shop.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Holy Grail of Pant Elastic

I found some new (cheaper) pant elastic and tried it out today. It seems okay, though I won't know till I've worn them whether they're comfy or not. I'd still prefer to find narrower elastic for the same price - then I'd be happy.
I also made Meg new cushion covers today from leftover soft cord I had in the cupboard. They were easy to knock up, and roughly measured and sewn together. I've washed them now and will present them to Meg later.
The colour in the photo below is more accurate. A kind of mossy green.
And this photo below is of Meg just after she'd leapt into the bush after a sweet little bird. She didn't get it, but her hunting skills are impressive nonetheless.
I think I'll spend the rest of the day reading, knitting, playing piano and watching the second of the Voyager two-parter.

Stranded in the Delta Quadrant (aka Norfolk)

Haggis and I have recently been watching Star Trek Voyager on DVD. Series 6 arrived in this morning's post.

It struck me the other day, after being in Edinburgh, how Hagos and I living in Norfolk feels similar to the plight of Voyager's crew being stranded in the Delta Quadrant. I frequently question how we got here, what we're doing living here, and trying to figure out a route home again. (We moved to Norfolk from London ten years ago so I could study at the University of East Anglia for my Masters Degree. We didn't want to move back to London and so have ended up just staying here.) Last weekend in Scotland showed us what our lives could be like with good friends and family nearby.

Norfolk is a lovely county and is an extremely pleasant place to live. And the people are overwhelmingly gentle and kind and good people. But I've never felt settled here. Maybe it's because we lived in London from the ages of 19 to 30, we got used to living in a vibrant and diverse city and Norfolk feels very sleepy in comparison. So, we need to make the move to Edinburgh and I feel scared and excited for all sorts of reasons.

Another similarity to the Voyager crew is that Hagos and I were joined by our own little Borg drone, Meg, though she acts more like the Borg Queen than a drone (Seven of Nine is my favourite Star Trek character). When we finally leave we'll be taking our little drone with us back to the Alpha Quadrant (aka Edinburgh).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Catching Butterflies with Darth Vader

On Friday Hagos and I drove to Scotland to stay with my folks to celebrate my dad's birthday. I made my dad and Hagos identical birthday cakes the night before and the car smelled amazing all the way up the road. Hagos had woken up with a stinking cold in the morning and we weren't sure we were doing the right thing continuing with our plans, but we'd been really looking forward to the weekend and didn't want to cancel. On Saturday we drove to Edinburgh to stay with our friends, Pete and Lyns, and their kids, Nate and JJ. Above is Hagos with his birthday cake and candles (that spelled his name) and two very interested parties sitting next to him.
A tradition, of sorts, has evolved whereby we exchange Christmas presents the first time we see each other after Christmas, so what with birthday presents and Christmas presents there were a lot of presents flying around. This is Nate as Darth Vader. I'm not sure who was most excited about this present between the kids and the adults. We got JJ Elefun, a game where a little elephant blows butterflies from his long trunk and you have to catch them with nets. I got a piano book that I've already been playing, some of my favourite hot chocolate from Coco Chocolate, a chocolate shop in Ed, and some polar bear post it notes.

Lyns and I tried to sneak upstairs to play piano, and we managed about fifteen minutes before being rumbled by the boys. As both Pete and Hagos were ill, Lyns and I took the boys out both days to give the big boys a rest, and to let the little boys expend energy. On Sunday we went to the museum and Nate showed us round.
Nate as a spaceman.
From the museum rooftop.
An exhibition of Scottish Country Dancing in the foyer. I used to love Scottish Country Dancing when I was a kid. The dancing teacher called me his 'little sausage'.
We went out, briefly, on Saturday night for Hagos's birthday meal, to Viva Mexico, on Coburn Street (Cockburn?). We were joined by our other friends Rik and Kev and Sam. It would have been nice to have drunk margaritas into the night, but Hagos and Pete were both suffering by the end of the meal so we went home instead.

The above photo shows the boys watching Tom and Jerry on Hagos's phone (or, "Thomas Jelly" as JJ called it - "I want to watch Thomas Jelly," was a phrase he said a lot). I don't think either of them had seen it before and they thought it was hilarious and giggled all the way through. Hagos and I have wondered why Tom and Jerry is no longer shown on TV, whether it's now considered too violent for kids. It's difficult to tell. We all concluded it hadn't done us any harm!