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Tag Archives: Glasgow

The Traveller’s Lament

I visited London yesterday for a work-related event. I had to get up at 4am to make it to my 10am meeting and I wasn’t home until 11pm. It was a very long day – not made any easier by my sudden head-cold.

I was sitting on my flight last night and seeing it was a clear night, I could follow our path moving northwards through England. After the pilot informed us we had just passed Manchester, the lights below started become more and more scarce. I leaned against the window. Some time later I saw a massive flood of light in the distance and seeing that the flight path would not have taken us towards Newcastle, there was only one city that could be that big, that lit-up: Glasgow. Home. My body and mind relaxed in that moment with that undefinable, warming sense of belonging there. I have spent so many years feeling like I did not belong somewhere that I still bask in the glory of being home.

Knitterly content: I have three Finished Objects to show off, but no photos so that’ll have to wait. I only have one WIP which is completely disgusting. I do have one project in mind which I’ll start later today..

I have also read several books recently. I’m in a very Victorian mode at the moment.

A few links and quotes:

The New Statesman published an excellent column recently: “You should have your tongue ripped out”: the reality of sexist abuse online.

While I won’t deny that almost all bloggers attract some extremely inflammatory comments — and LGBT or non-white ones have their own special fan clubs, too — there is something distinct, identifiable and near-universal about the misogynist hate directed at women online.

I contacted the columnist afterwards and told her briefly about my own experiences with “interesting” comments on my old literary blog. A male blog reader started stalking me in real life claiming I was “putting it out there” and I had to get the police involved (which was problematic in its own gender-political way).

Nowadays my blog is .. well, I guess this is a craft blog, of sorts, which is situated within a mostly-female space or community. There are still gender issues at play within this ‘community’  – first of which is “can we even lay claim to this being a community”, of course – but it is definitely a different set of issues.

Sarai Mitnick of Colette Patterns went to Quilt Market and was slightly ambivalent. However, I was struck by one thing she wrote:

My impression is that crafty women today (and I include myself) are interested in all kinds of handmade stuff, including clothes, items for their homes (like quilts), food, gardens, you name it. It’s all about bringing the magic of the homemade into every aspect of our lives, of living a life of creativity and meaning, of renewing and reinvigorating a range of traditions.

Finally, have you seen Margaret Atwood has knitted a Great Auk? She is on Ravelry too, of course..

Ghost World

With great joy comes great heartache, so my great-grandmother always said. One of the hardest things about being an expat is that I am far away from people who matter very, very much. My dearest and best friend and her boyfriend visited us last week. I was overjoyed to see them arrive and I was unsurprisingly miserable when they left again.

But we did have a lovely week together.

Highlights included watching the ever-changing skies over Loch Lomond (pictured left), having an afternoon pint of local brew in The Falls of Dochart Inn (out of tourist season significantly less Brigadoon than I suspect it’ll be in high season), doing the obvious Monty Python jokes at Doune Castle, buying yarn at New Lanark, playing Munchkin in the evenings, having a tremendous dinner at Fanny Trollope’s and .. just hanging out with some of the best people I know.

Of course I was also working my usual hours and trying to deal with paperwork, so things were slightly less relaxing than it could have been. I also miss our guests in a raw, unsettled way. Still, I feel nourished and ready to tackle what is ahead.

What is ahead? I am heading to London for work next week, so I need to prepare myself for that. I also have a couple of patterns to write and a lot of things to finish. Somehow I have also talked myself into a rather big homemade Christmas present that needs to be finished by early December.


Finally, and wholly unrelated, I went down to Occupy Glasgow’s camp yesterday and I had to laugh out loud when I saw a sign saying “Daily Mail, We Don’t Respect You Either“. How marvellous.

The End of an Era

It is no secret that I love hanging out at Auntie M’s Cake Lounge. Sadly it is the end of an era for a place that quickly became a West End classic with its effortless style, delicious homebaked goods and witty banter. However, as befits its spirit, Auntie M is closing with a cake buffet and a week-long vintage craft supplies sale.

sept 2011 046Pictured: lemon layer cake, chocolate pound cake, peanut butter & chocolate cake, spice cake, banana cake, bakewell tarts, victoria sponge cupcakes, maltesers cake, coconut cake, orange cupcakes, coffee & caramel cupcake, mint meringues, lemon meringue cupcakes, chocolate cherry cupcakes and more.

Other Half managed five slices of cake plus 3 cupcakes. Sadly I wasn’t far behind.

sept 2011 047The vintage craft supplies sale is running for an entire week. If you are in Glasgow, I really urge you to go have a look.

This is the fabric table full of vintage fabrics (remnants were underneath the table). Other tables had cross-stitch kits, trimmings, zips, notions, knitting patterns, buttons etc. You could even pick up a bargain sewing machine if you were so inclined.

I bought a metre of really cute robin’s egg-blue cotton with dancing mice – not my usual style, but rather fabulous all the same. I can see this working as a very cool quilt back.

sept 2011 124And I bought some fantastic vintage knitting patterns. 75p each!

From the left: a very pretty 3ply jumper with a very intricate lace pattern and unusual crochet edgings; a 3ply cardigan with a lovely lace & bobble stitch pattern; and finally a spectacular cardigan with colourwork panels and reindeer intarsia panels. I fell in love immediately. The instructions are horrific though, as the reindeers are not charted but are written out stitch-by-stitch. I was chanting in my head: I love charts, I love charts, I love charts..

I shall miss Auntie M’s a huge amount. It became a home-away-from-home of sorts and I shall especially miss the sparkling banter (and the lemon drizzle cake). On the other hand, my waistline is rather thankful that you are closing.

Thank you for everything, Michelle and Sam. It has been an absolute blast.

Of Petals and Parcelforce

I spent the evening sewing again. I’m making a much needed lined corduroy skirt and I had this idea in my head. I am using remnants of Liberty fabric swatches for the embellishment. Let’s see how my idea looks when the skirt is properly assembled, though.

The pattern is from a Danish sewing magazine my mum sent me earlier this year. I love receiving parcels from my family. Tiny presents and unexpected treats. My partner gets his beloved Danish marzipan, I get craft magazines and licorice. Win-win .. except when Parcelforce messes up and they do mess up quite frequently.

Add another Parcelforce failure to my bunch of stories – this time my story guest-stars my gran who sent me a lovely surprise parcel in July. Of course the parcel just happened to be picked up by a driver who ‘forgets’ about collection cards and just dumps parcels in the local post office rather than try to deliver them. And of course the post office gets tired of undelivered parcels taking up space and returns them to the Parcelforce depot where they disappear.

I have never lied this much to Gran over so short a timespan. Of course I knew where the parcel was! Unfortunately the post office was closed just as I made it there. Oh, I am just waiting for the delivery man to confirm when he’s going to pop by.. If you have ever had a gran whose worried silence speaks volumes, you will know how I have felt these past two days.

Thankfully, Parcelforce does have nice people working for them. Steve found my parcel tonight after trawling the depot. And he is going to make sure that the parcel is being delivered tomorrow.

It better be. I cannot deal with Day Three of Gran being worried.

In other news, I was rather underwhelmed by BBC4’s Elegance & Decadence: The Age of Regency. The subject matter is so interesting – the early parts of the 19th century were filled with radical ideas, grand geopolitical events, and amazing cultural upheaval – but despite an enthusiastic presenter, the while thing got mired down in cumbersome details about marble tables and gilded tableware. At least Beau Brummell was briefly mentioned (to my great geeky delight) but why he was to be singled out among the rarified set was never really fully explained beyond a brief dressing-up session. I shall keep watching but my hopes are slightly dampened.

Off to read some Russian literature. As you do.

Knitting Woe-Woes

Today I was going to show you a photo of Norn and tell you about its progress, but the camera has gone to work with my Other Half.

Downtown Glasgow is currently being transformed into a slice of Philadelphia for a Brad Pitt film shoot and Dave wanted to take photos of Philly taxis, the JFK Boulevard street signs and whatnot. I had a look yesterday afternoon and it feels slightly surreal to see the American flag flying over the Glasgow City Chambers. Oh, and Pitt and Angelina Jolie arrived in Glasgow yesterday. Cue media madness.

Let’s keep things in perspective, though, and talk about much more important matters such as my Norn jumper. You may remember that I posted a photo on Monday:

Look at that! Beautiful, squishy jumper-in-progress. Lovely colours, just-enough-interest colourwork and heavenly soft. I look at that photo and I’m beaming like someone’s mum.

Monday evening I realised that four rows down the colourwork was off to by one stitch throughout half the back. Two of my knitting friends couldn’t see the flaw, but I knew a half-the-back’s worth of one-stitch-off-ness would bother me.

Tuesday afternoon, I gently pulled the jumper off the needles and started ripping out the four rows. Then I paused.

Off the needles Norn looked .. different. Norn looked very different. Norn looked .. big. I grabbed the tape measure and had a look. Then I measured myself (just to make doubly-sure).

Norn had eight inches of ease.

I checked my gauge. I had an acceptable gauge, though not bang on target. I did knitterly maths. Hmmm. And then I ripped out Norn.

So, while my own knitting is in time-out, let me mention something else. I am not a stitcher, but I recently came across a stunning sampler. I asked my very good friend, Paula (who is a marvellous stitcher) about these samplers and she pointed me in the direction of Ackworth Quaker Samplers. Then Paula mentioned there was a knitting connection: Quaker pinball knitting.

I found more details on Ravelry: the pinballs are knitted intarsia-style on 0.8mm needles using sewing thread (I feel faint just writing that!). They are gorgeous. The beyond-excellent Needleprint blog has an entry on makkin’ wires for the pinballs and just what makkin wires the girls at Ackworth would have had at their disposal.

That sort of thing really does add perspective to my present knitting woes. Norn is knitted in double-knitting on 4mm needles. Thick, thick wool on thick, thick needles and no intarsia in sight. Who am I to feel slightly blue and moan about “a mountain of knitting”? So, I’m going to grab my trustworthy 4mm needles and cast on for a size smaller – and that’s the silver-lining right there: fewer stitches!

West End Walk

Hey babe, take a walk in the West End..

Open the gate..

What will you find?

A chance encounter with beauty..

..or something else inside?

Maybe just a place to rest for a while.

Then close the door and whisper ‘bye, bye’.

Knitting In Public No More

As a blogger and a social media type, I think frequently about privacy issues. It matters to me even if my face is plastered across Ravelry and my full name is easily uncovered.

Yesterday I joked I was going to sue if my little private gathering of knitters were declared ‘the next cool thing’ in Scottish newspapers. Well, we just ended up having our photo tweeted by some UK television personalities. I might have thought it a fun little interlude (just like when we appeared on TV) if they had actually asked our permission before taking the photo. They had not and I am not amused. I respected their privacy; it would have been nice if they had afforded me the same courtesy.

(ETA Wednesday lunchtime: They have pulled the photo with an apology. I really appreciate that. Thanks.)

And then tonight I was knitting on the bus home. A rather thuggish group of ladies congregated around me and stared as though I were juggling sharp knives. That was a very long bus ride.

I think it is time to retire my knitting in public, at least for a little while. I’m tired of being a circus performer for other people’s blooming amusement.

Larisa & the Halfway Point

How can this be July already? To celebrate, my Larisa scarf is now available to download for free from Ravelry.

Recent events in Casa Bookish:

  • We went to see the new Riverside Transport Museum here in Glasgow. It is smaller than you think and the interior is painted a strange lime-green hue which makes everybody look jaundiced – but it is an interesting space. It’ll be good to see more imaginative projects shoot up alongside the Clyde river.
  • When Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus: The Ring of Solomon is the third-most intellectually challenging book I have read this year, you know I’m in trouble. It was hugely enjoyable, actually, but I feel guilty for not reading Clever Stuff. Maybe I should consult this.
  • Don’t knit lace when you are tired and stressed. Trust me on this one.
  • As a household of news junkies, D and I have been glued to BBC News 24 and The Guardian’s coverage of the UK phone-hacking scandal. MetaFilter has a great primer if you are unaware of the scandal (and stay for the comments).
  • I had a stressful day trying to upgrade my blog software which turned out to be incompatible with my host company’s servers. As you can tell, I managed to work things out, but I’m always thankful for UK hosting suggestions.

Glasgow had her annual Two Days of Summer but we are back to heavy rain, grey skies, and woolly-wear appropriate temperatures, huzzah! I am tempted to re-start Fenris which I had to rip out as I had grossly mis-calculated my measurements vs sweater measurements. Are you still working on your summer knitting?


Dear FirstGlasgow,

I am interested in learning why your bus driver wanted to charge me an additional 45p for a return ticket within Zone 1. I was wearing a green coat (from a reputable High Street chain) at the time which the driver was quite obviously eye-balling before informing me that a Zone 1 ticket was “For you, £3.45”. Surely FirstGlasgow does not base its pricing upon what a customer wears, so what gives?

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Karie Bookish.

In case anybody wonders why I’m discussing my wardrobe in a complaints letter, here’s the Wikipedia article on Sectarianism in Glasgow. My green coat is just a green coat, but unfortunately some people see it differently. Green equals support for Celtic FC in their eyes and so I never wear my coat when the Old Firm are playing each other. People get very silly sometimes, unfortunately.

In less serious news, I cast off my Skald shawl the other day and unpinned it today. Photos and info to follow. The yarn, a Faroese 1ply, blocked beautifully but it does look like a cat slept on top of the shawl. It’s really quite hairy. I have cast on for the next shawl, the Rock Island Shawl, in Old Maiden Aunt merino/silk lace (colourway: strange rock’n’rollers). The shawl is actually meant for Ms Old Maiden Aunt herself, Lilith, and I hope she’ll like it. It has been ages since I promised to knit her a shawl..

.. I’ve been knitting whilst listening to Enzology, a podcast from Radio New Zeland about one of my all-time favourite bands: Split Enz (sort-of like New Zealand’s answer to The Beatles, only not). It is a heady combination: lace, sunshine, and early Split Enz (youtube link). The combination has truly blown the cobwebs from my brain.

Less than two weeks to the Eurovision Song Contest, though, and I’m still not excited. Maybe I need to remove a few more cobwebs..

Home Is Where The Baked Beans Tins Are Stacked

“It’s a really nice day outside, you know,” said my partner when he called. I know and I’m heading outside with my working-from-home bits in just a second, but first I wanted to share a video I came across the other day.

Felice Cohen lives in a 90 sq-foot/8 sq-metre apartment in Manhattan, New York. This is her choice and I respect her for the decision. However, it brought me back to the eight years I spent living in a 16 square-metre/170 square-foot pad in Copenhagen.

I moved into my place when I was 19 and just started university. The first few years I loved my haven: I shared a huge kitchen with other students and we had a great time getting used to living away from home. Then the building was refurbished; my little pad suddenly had a kitchenette where I once had storage; and student life got mixed up with people who lived there because they had split up with their partner or because the authorities thought it a good place for “vulnerable adults” to mix with “normal people”. Things got very claustrophobic. These were the times when I bought an obscene amount of interior design magazines just to fly away on escapist dreams.

Copenhagen is a very expensive city – including real estate – so moving elsewhere was not an option for many years. One of my friends coined the phrase “3D Tetris” which was terribly apt. Finding room for your tin of baked beans became a competitive sport at times. I look at that video of Felice Cohen and I can see several ways she could use her space better. And I’m not a naturally organised person. The space has a high ceiling and I’d utilise that height a lot more.

Sm06 007

I still miss this view

Eventually I got my own flat with a separate kitchen (it felt like such a triumph), but it was a real Copenhagen apartment with no bathroom (the shower was in the bedroom I rented out), a tiny toilet (you’d bang your knees on the door when you sat down), and no laundry facilities.

At the time I thought I was happy there but it was a place where time fell into the cracks between the floor-boards and I was actually terribly unhappy there. I lived there for two or three years. I miss the view from the kitchen but that is all.

What home means is such a difficult thing to pinpoint but I know what it is like not having one (I lived in my suitcase for a year. I cannot recommend this). Home means privacy. I shut the front door and shut out the world. Home means space. I can stretch out my arms and not touch walls. Home means peace. I can relax and be quiet. And home means my partner. This is exceptionally sappy, of course, but it is very difficult to imagine a home without him curled up with a book.

Now I’m off to grab my iPod (loaded with Danish-languaged postcasts on culture, society and language), my work and I’m heading out into my Glasgow version of Ms Cohen’s Central Park. Enjoy your day.